Police credit outreach team in slaying arrest
Homeless initiative turned up useful information, affidavit says
Investigators looking into the beating death of a man turned to the Grand Junction Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Team to identify a suspect, who eventually was arrested, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
Aaron Myers, 26, homeless, is being held at the Mesa County Jail on $200,000 bond on suspicion of second-degree murder in the death of 50-year-old David Albert Gerry of Grand Junction, whose body was found by investigators the evening of April 23.
The affidavit in Myers’ case was unsealed Wednesday.
Authorities were called just after midnight April 23 by a man who told dispatchers that his friend, David, was going to die after being beaten with a stick, the affidavit said. The caller, John Lofstedt, 40, admitted he was intoxicated while making the 911 report. He said he was partying in the desert north of 29 Road with six others when a fight erupted between two men over a woman, the affidavit said. He later changed his account.
Lofstedt said he fled, leaving his friend unconscious on the ground.
Authorities picked up the potential witness and drove him to the desert but couldn’t find the crime scene despite several hours of searching, the affidavit said. It wasn’t until about 6 p.m. that day that two motorcyclists from the Front Range discovered Gerry’s body and called 911.
Authorities noted a large stick near the body. The Mesa County Coroner’s office determined Gerry died from blunt-force trauma, including three blows to the head.
Lofstedt was again intoxicated when authorities met him that night at an Orchard Mesa liquor store. He eventually told Mesa County Sheriff’s Department investigators that a man, AJ, had been stabbed during the fight. AJ then hit David with the “big stick,” Lofstedt said. He said he knew one of the women at the party as “Chelsea.”
On April 25, investigators sought help from the Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Team, which was formed in January, to help identify AJ or Chelsea.
“Within several hours, (Homeless Outreach Team member) Cpl. Jeff Davis contacted us and stated several contacts had stated there was a male named AJ (Myers) and a female named Chelsea Anderson who were known to hang out together,” the affidavit said.
Myers was tracked down by deputies April 26 and agreed to be interviewed.
Myers said he had been in a situation that was “out of control,” and he would have called authorities, but his cell phone was stolen. He said he was homeless, living in the desert and among six people who were drinking during the desert party. Myers claimed he had been stabbed by a man, Ryan Green, when someone came up from behind and pushed him with a stick.
“Mr. Myers said he was fearful for his safety by the person who pushed him, so he turned around, grabbed the stick, and described he struck the male one time with the stick,” the affidavit said.
He claimed the blow was self-defense, adding he was “scared because he did not mean to harm the victim,” the affidavit said.
Myers’ case is scheduled to return to court June 7.