Threatening letter to Forest Service continues to mystify investigators |

Threatening letter to Forest Service continues to mystify investigators

Aspen Times Staff Report

The investigation of a threatening letter received by the U.S. Forest Service office in Aspen in the summer of 1999 has not turned up any leads.

The anonymous letter contained a threat to “shoot up” the Ranger District office, said then-District Ranger Rob Iwamoto. The letter was turned over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation by Forest Service officials, but the FBI hasn’t made any breakthroughs.

“I believe at this point we’ve run all the leads to the end,” said FBI public information officer Ann Atanasio last week. “We’re hoping new information will come in that will lead us in a new direction.”

Atanasio said it’s impossible to determine whether the letter was sent in jest. She said the agency must treat all threats as though they are serious.

The letter was hand-lettered on half of an 8.5-by-11-inch piece of paper and postmarked at the Aspen Post Office on August 14, 1999. The writer was apparently angry about Forest Service plans to institute a fee charged to Maroon Lake visitors.

Atanasio said she didn’t know whether a handwriting expert had analyzed the letter.

Ken Rice, law enforcement officer for the Forest Service, said he did a preliminary investigation on the letter and turned it over to the agency’s law enforcement office in Grand Junction. He said he’s done no further work on the case, because when the FBI takes over an investigation, it doesn’t come back to the Forest Service.

Luke Konantz, U.S. Forest Service criminal investigator in Grand Junction, said he received the letter from Rice. He said there isn’t much to go on because it’s hard to get fingerprints off a letter, and if fingerprints are obtained, matching them is a problem.

“The problem is if we don’t have a suspect, it’s kind of hard to know what to look for,” Konantz said.

“In this particular case, we weren’t able to develop any evidence that we could use,” he continued. “Letters are really hard to get anything off of. People do all sorts of things to disguise their handwriting.”

Konantz said investigators would appreciate any further leads from the public.

“If anybody knows anything about this, they can contact us here,” Konantz said. “We’ll follow up on it.”

Konantz can be reached at (970) 263-5815.

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