Death in Paonia probed as homicide

A woman was found dead on a property in Paonia on Friday, and her estranged husband was in custody in what authorities were calling a homicide investigation.

Nathan Yager, 37, of Paonia, was taken into custody after turning himself in around 3:15 p.m. at the Montrose Police Department, said Paonia police spokesman Neal Schwieterman, who also is the town’s mayor.

As of early Friday evening, Yager was being interviewed by agents of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation at the Delta County Jail, but Yager had not been booked in connection with his wife’s death, Schwieterman said.

Schwieterman said Paonia police had been trying to locate Yager after his wife’s body was discovered near her home at 427 Delta Ave., in Paonia, just after 1 p.m. Friday.

A Paonia officer was alerted about the body by a witness after the officer had been called to the home to investigate a trespassing call, Schwieterman said. He declined to specify where the body was found or how investigators believe the woman died.

The woman’s name was being withheld by Paonia police pending notification of next of kin.

Yager and the slain woman had been going through a divorce, he said.

Paonia High School briefly was locked down Friday after the discovery of the body. Alyssa Pinkerton, a Paonia resident whose son and daughter attend school in Hotchkiss, said she received a call from a school official around 3:20 p.m. explaining she would have to pick up her children roughly a block east from their regular bus stop because of a “breach of security.”

“No other explanation was provided,” Pinkerton said.

She later learned the children’s regular bus stop was near the homicide scene.

Schwieterman said Paonia police asked for assistance from the CBI because of the small department’s unfamiliarity with major violent crime.

“Our last homicide was in 1993, and all of those officers are gone,” he said.


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