The Lenado man |

The Lenado man

On Aug. 18, 1979, a couple hunting mushrooms in a field in Lenado stumbled upon the body of a murdered man.

Never identified by police, “the Lenado man” is the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office only unsolved murder case, and his body ” or most of it ” now lies in an unmarked grave in Glenwood Springs.

Investigators have kept the man’s hands and skull in their evidence vault, hoping that someday a break in the 24-year-old case will reveal his identity, and perhaps even his killers.

The killing doesn’t appear to have been random. The Lenado man may have been blindfolded before he was shot twice in the head. A bullet that entered the man’s eye had cloth on it.

Since the man was shot with two different guns, there may be two separate killers still at large. The body in the field was partially covered with felled trees ” an attempt to hide the crime.

Items found near the body indicated that this man was more than just a drifter ” a bloodstained “Colorful Colorado” map, a bloodied map of Rocky Mountain National Park, Ernest Hemingway’s “The Fifth Column,” a European watch and matches from Motel 6. Investigators determined that the man smoked a pipe and had received extensive dental work. The man’s hands were saved for the fingerprints, the skull for his teeth and facial structure.

Exhaustive searches never turned up anyone with knowledge of the man, and numerous investigators have tried and failed to identify him. When Joe DiSalvo, the current head of investigations for the Sheriff’s Office, first arrived in the department more than a decade ago, the hefty file of the murder was left on his desk with a note from his supervisor that simply read “Solve this,” in jest.

Over the years, the Sheriff’s Office has made various attempts to reconstruct the man’s face ” including a 1978 sculpture of what his face might have looked like (pipe, glasses and all) and a 1993 drawing of an average-looking man with a square jaw.

“We have no idea how to look for the killers if we don’t know who this man is,” DiSalvo says. “It’s very strange that in all these years no one has come forward and said ‘I knew that guy.’ We’re hoping that since 1979 isn’t really that long ago, somebody will either know something or, in a dying declaration, say what they know about this. It’s the only unsolved murder in Pitkin County.”

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