All posts by CBS Denver

Arrest Made In 1988 Cold Case Murder; Suspect Would Have Been 15 

DENVER (AP/CBS4) — Colorado police say they have arrested a man in connection with a woman’s 1988 murder — a crime investigators believe the man committed at the age of 15.

James Edward Papol was arrested Thursday in Pueblo and faces murder charges for the June 5, 1988 death of 24-year-old Mary Lynne Vialpando.

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Mary Lynne Vialpando (credit: Colorado Springs Police Department)

The 46-year-old is being held without bond. It’s not clear if he has an attorney.

According to police, Vialpando argued with her husband after returning home from a wedding and ran away. Her body was found in an alley the next morning. She had been stabbed, sexually assaulted and beaten.

It’s not clear what led to Papol’s arrest.

Colorado Springs Police Chief Pete Carey indicated that DNA testing was involved. Officials would not answer questions Thursday about the case.

(© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) 

Fire Ants Spotted In Flood Water After Hurricane Florence

KINSTON, N.C. (CBS4) — There are a lot of reasons to avoid contact with floodwater. In addition to floating pieces of debris, it could be contaminated with raw sewage and other toxic substances from coal ash to dead animals to nuclear waste. Hog farms and waste lagoons pose one of the greatest threats, according to AccuWeather.

Also, there are fire ants.

A reporter from Colorado encountered a whole mess of them in Kinston, North Carolina.

“Guys. I was warned day one by people at about these fire ants LITERALLY floating in flood waters and look what happened. That’s right. This video shows an island of fire ants floating along in Kinston, NC,” Joey Prechtl wrote on Twitter.

Prechtl works for KKTV in Colorado Springs but was sent to North Carolina to help WITN with coverage of the storm and resulting floods.

“[Rudy Luzania] and I were set up along Highway 70 south of Kinston. We were there because the Neuse River crested today and closed the highway down,” Prechtl told CBS4 on Thursday. “We were waiting to go live at 6:30 EST for our station back in Colorado. And then those ants floated by!” Prechtl said on Twitter.

“We both thought it wasn’t real at first. Ran into the water and got close and then saw the ants moving and we started filming. Rudy didn’t have the proper boots on either and drenched his socks,” Prechtl said.

We asked Luzania how he responded.

“Probably the complete opposite reaction from normal people I know. But still A FLOATING ISLAND OF ANTS!” he tweeted. “We were super excited! We’ve been waiting to see these for the last 3 days!”

Prechtl also spotted some intimidating arachnids in the flood zone.

spider Fire Ants Spotted In Flood Water After Hurricane Florence

(CBS)

“Update: now this guy is here. I’m going back to my hotel,” Prechtl tweeted.

As we mentioned a few sentences ago, fire ants are not the only dangerous thing in the water.

“The rain left two dozen hog farms seeping waste, killed 3.4 million chickens and turkeys, caused widespread mandates to boil drinking water and kept workers trying to prevent coal ash waste from leaking out of a landfill,” according to the Washington Post.

“On Sunday, the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority reported that more than 5 million gallons of partially treated sewage had spilled into the Cape Fear River after power failed at its treatment plant,” CBS reported. “Flood water may have high levels of raw sewage or other hazardous substances. Early symptoms from exposure to contaminated flood water may include upset stomach, intestinal problems, headache and other flu-like discomfort. Anyone experiencing these and any other problems should immediately seek medical attention.”

For advice about dealing with flood water from the Centers For Disease Control, click here.

 

KISS Announces ‘End Of The Road’ Farewell Tour

LOS ANGELES (CBS News) – Fans can give Paul Stanley, Tommy Thayer, Eric Singer and Gene Simmons a kiss goodbye. KISS announced their final world tour, appropriately titled “End of the Road.” The band performed “Detroit Rock City” on “America’s Got Talent” before the big reveal on Tuesday.

The band has been active for 45 years. In a statement, they said, “All that we have built and all that we have conquered over the past four decades could never have happened without the millions of people worldwide who’ve filled clubs, arenas and stadiums over those years. This will be the ultimate celebration for those who’ve seen us and a last chance for those who haven’t. KISS Army, we’re saying goodbye on our final tour with our biggest show yet and we’ll go out the same way we came in … Unapologetic and Unstoppable.”

In total, KISS has a discography of 20 studio albums, 8 live albums and 13 compilation albums. The band was founded in 1973.

The band has not announced yet when the tour will kick off, but KISS fan club members will be the first to know.

“End of the Road” is not KISS’s first farewell tour. The band held “The Farewell Tour” from 2000 to 2002 with original members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss.

Earlier this year, Stanley hinted at retirement during an interview with Billboard. He said, “I don’t want to go leave home. I have a family and I have children and, honestly, I think my primary responsibility is to be a dad and I don’t want to miss out on that. And certainly as we got older we know that life is finite and I pick and choose what I want to do at this point.”

© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Elbert County Asks State For Funding To Crack Down On Illegal Marijuana

By Ben Warwick

ELBERT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – The Elbert County Sheriff’s Office is asking for more money from the state to crack down on illegal marijuana grows.

The office says since marijuana became legal in Colorado, the number of illegal grows has skyrocketed.

Deputies have seized more than 2300 plants, and nearly 300 pounds of marijuana.

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(Credit: Elbert County Sheriff’s Office)

The county was reimbursed more than $150,000 for those operations, but they say they need more money to keep up.

Ben Warwick is an Assignment Editor at CBS4 and is a native Coloradan. He loves sports, particularly baseball, and telling stories from around the state. Connect with him on Twitter @BenCBS4.

Investigation Reveals Male State Senator Used Women’s Bathroom Repeatedly

By Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4)– A Colorado state senator is demanding a public apology from a male colleague after an investigation found he used the women’s restroom on several occasions.

It comes after a string of allegations of workplace harassment in both chambers from both parties at the state Capitol over the last year.

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Senator Beth Martinez Humenik, a Republican representing Thornton, says she was in a stall in the women’s restroom – located right beside the men’s restroom outside the Senate chamber – when someone came in and entered the stall next to her.

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CBS4’s Shaun Boyd interviews Senator Beth Martinez Humenik (credit: CBS)

“And when I looked down, there were definitely a man’s shoes and a man’s suit pants.”

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She soon learned the identity of that man, “Senator Kagan walked out. I asked, ‘What are you doing in there?’ and something about (mumble, mumble) not feeling good. As we’re walking out the door, I said, ‘Senator Kagan, this is not okay. I don’t want to see you in here again.’”

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But Martinez Humenik says it did happen again and again and again. She says there were six reports.

“Something had to be done about it.”

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(credit: CBS)

She filed a workplace harassment complaint. According the investigative report CBS4 obtained, Sen. Kagan, a Democrat, admitted to using the women’s restroom once, saying he had a “gastrointestinal virus” and “the bathrooms at the capitol are a confusing business.”

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But he says it didn’t happen again. He accused Republicans of retaliating because Democrats tried to oust one of their members for sexual misconduct.

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Senator Beth Martinez Humenik (credit: CBS)

Martinez Humenik says it transcends politics, “It happened to female staffers on both sides of the aisle. It wasn’t just Republican staffers. It wasn’t just me.”

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The investigative report found evidence of three instances.

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“This needs to stop. It just needs to stop. Apologize and commit to not doing it anymore.”

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Kagan did not respond to a call for comment. A spokesperson for the Senate Democrats released a statement, “Senator Kagan has said all along – he mistakenly used the wrong unmarked restroom almost a year and a half ago. He has since apologized for this embarrassing mistake and looks forward to putting it behind him.”

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(credit: CBS)

LINK: Kagan Investigation Report

Shaun Boyd is CBS4’s political specialist. She’s a veteran reporter with more than 25 years of experience. Follow her on Twitter @cbs4shaun.

Would-Be Burglar Wakes Up Homeowner To Ask For Keys To Car

By Ben Warwick

PUEBLO, Colo. (CBS4) – A man in Pueblo stopped a burglar who broke into his home overnight.

He held the suspect at gunpoint until police could get there.

Police say 34-year-old Randy Mata broke into the home and grabbed a set of keys.

randy mata Would Be Burglar Wakes Up Homeowner To Ask For Keys To Car

Randy Mata (credit: Pueblo Police Department)

He went into the garage and loaded items into the homeowner’s car.

When he tried to drive off, he realized he had the wrong keys.

Mata woke up the homeowners and demanded the car keys.

The homeowner grabbed a gun and chased Mata into the backyard until Pueblo Police showed up.

Ben Warwick is an Assignment Editor at CBS4 and is a native Coloradan. He loves sports, particularly baseball, and telling stories from around the state. Connect with him on Twitter @BenCBS4.

Couple Pays Deposit, Rent On Home But Still Faces Eviction

By Joel Hillan

DENVER (CBS4) – A couple who paid their deposit and rent have been labeled as squatters and are now facing eviction. It’s a problem that is growing in the ever-competitive Denver metro area housing market.

Tarence Scott says he went online to find a new rental property. When he found the Green Valley Ranch listing, his wife tried to warn him the deal looked too good to be true.

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“We had just come from a 5-bedroom house that we were only paying $1,200 a month for, so when we found a place like this for $900, it wasn’t too good to be true,” said Tarence.

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He says the person they made contact with gave them the code to the lockbox with the key in it.

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Immediately they fell in love with the house and on Aug. 30, moved forward with paperwork.

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“Signed it online and sent it back, came, got the key, moved in and we’ve been here ever since. We just got the notice on the door Monday to get out,” Tarence said.

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The notice had come from American Homes 4 Rent that manages the property.

After a few phone calls first to the rental company and then to MoneyGram, who he had used to wire the $1,800, Tarence realized he had be had.

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(credit: CBS)

“Like, ‘How the heck did I miss that? How did I?’” He asked.

A Google search of the address took CBS4 to www.apartments.com where they not only list the proper rent and contact information for the management company, but also a banner warning about potential scammers.

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Tarence says he’s looking at all of his options, but faces possible eviction at any moment.

“Right now we’re just trying to find whatever resource we can to help us take a step forward,” he said.

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As of time of publishing, CBS4 reached out to American Homes 4 Rent and they did not have a comment.

Tarence said that when he made contact with them they offered to have him fill out paperwork, but he knew he wouldn’t be able to afford to the rent.

Joel Hillan anchors CBS4 This Morning on weekends as well as reports stories for CBS4 News at 5 and 6 p.m. Follow Joel on Twitter @joelhillan.

Daughter Finds Child Porn On Father’s Cell Phone, Turns Him In

WELD COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) — A repeat sex offender was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison after his daughter found child pornography on his phone and gave it to police.

Frank Steven Wietecha, Jr., 49, was sentenced last Friday in federal court in Denver and immediately began serving his sentence. He will serve an additional 15 years of supervision after his release from prison.

frank steven wietecha weld child porn from weld cnty so Daughter Finds Child Porn On Fathers Cell Phone, Turns Him In

Frank Steven Wietecha, Jr. (credit: Weld County Sheriff’s Office)

Wietecha’s daughter was in possession of Wietecha’s cell phone in November of last year, according to a press release from the U.S. District Attorney’s Office and the FBI, when she found images on it.

The FBI obtained a search warrant for Wietecha’s phone and found more than 1,000 stored images of child pornography.

Wietecha was arrested by officers from the Fort Lupton Police Department, per online court records.

Those records show Wietecha pleaded guilty in 2002 to a midemeanor charge of Sexual Exploitation of a Child following an arrest in Wheat Ridge. He was also arrested for Failure to Register As a Sex Offender in 2010 and 2016 in Adams County, and 2015 in Jefferson County.

Wietecha had previously has served time on three different occasions in the Colorado Department of Corrections, according to court records..

 

‘Rock Slide Zone’ On Highway 9 Creates Hazard For Drivers

By Matt Kroschel

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– Drivers are used to dodging deer and elk and in one notorious stretch of Colorado blacktop: Highway 9. Drivers are also on the lookout for rocks.

Highway 9 above Green Mountain Reservoir north of Silverthorne was closed Wednesday evening for a rock slide that covered the highway. It is just the latest incident involving rock that caught drivers by suppose.

Melissa Ferris was driving along that stretch when she came around a blind corner and hit the slide.

“I came around the corner saw a guy waving at me to slow down and I did and then I saw the rock slide. I slowed down but not completely and I went into the rocks,” Ferris told CBS4 Thursday.

The slide happened in a section of cliffs above Green Mountain Reservoir. The loose black rock and dirt on the hillside frequently gives way, sending debris raining down on the highway.

“I was in shock,” Ferris added as she recounted the incident.

Thousands commute along the road every day from the Kremmling area into Summit County for work. There is no cellphone service in the area and it’s very dark at night.

The rock slide zone, as it’s known in the area, is not a risk they take lightly.

“On a rainy day or snowy day when the soil is softer, it comes down really quick,” said driver Yaneth Carballo.

The Colorado Department of Transportation has some concrete barriers in the area, but they are battered and not in place along the entire section where the slides often occur.

“Time goes by it’s not going to get any better and as time goes by, there is more traffic. It’s a hazard,” Carballo says.

For Ferris, the slide is something she cannot soon forget, “If I was in a smaller car instead of a jeep it probably would’ve totaled the car.”

Matt Kroschel covers news throughout Colorado working from the CBS4 Mountain Newsroom. Send story ideas to mrkroschel@cbs.com and connect with him on Twitter @Matt_Kroschel.

Scientists Just Discovered Spock’s Homeworld

By Ben Warwick

ALPHA QUADRANT, OUTER SPACE (CBS4) – Scientists have just proven that the fictional homeworld of Star Trek’s Mr. Spock has a real-life counterpart.

A new survey has discovered a new planet in the exact location where Spock’s planet would have been.

Here’s some background for non-Trekkies reading this.

Mr. Spock is from the fictional planet Vulcan. The star that the planet orbits was never identified in the show, but creator Gene Roddenberry and three astronomers wrote a letter to Sky & Telescope Magazine in 1991 explaining to astronomers where they believed Vulcan to be located in space. “We prefer the identification of 40 Eridani as Vulcan’s sun,” the group wrote.

40 Eridani is a real-life orange dwarf star, ranging about 4 billion years in age, about the same as our sun. That would, in Roddenberry’s mind, give an intelligent civilization such as the Vulcans time to evolve.

“Presumably Vulcan orbits the primary star, an orange main-sequence dwarf of spectral type K1,” they wrote.

Fast forward to 2018.

A new survey studying 40 Eridani shows that the star does indeed have a planet in its orbit, one about eight times the size of Earth.

The planet is too close to the star to support life, though the planet is the most common type found in the galaxy.

Starfleet Command could not be reached for comment.

Ben Warwick is an Assignment Editor at CBS4 and is a native Coloradan. He loves sports, particularly baseball, and telling stories from around the state. Connect with him on Twitter @BenCBS4.