Homicide victim ‘well-liked’ at homeless facility
An occasional visitor at a downtown Grand Junction homeless facility, the man whose body was found Friday at a transient camp was well-liked by guests and staff at the Catholic Outreach Day Center, the facility’s director said.
Richard Allen Nelson, 46, had stopped by, usually for coffee, several times over the past three months and was always polite, said Patricia Boom, the day center’s director. On a sign-up sheet, Nelson indicated he was homeless but didn’t offer further details about his circumstance, Boom said.
Guests said he was battling leukemia.
“He lived in Whitewater and would come down here two or three days, then head back,” Boom said. “He seemed very nice.”
Nelson was identified Wednesday by the Mesa County Coroner’s Office as the man whose body was found in a camp near the river, just east of Pepsi Bottling Group, 140 Power Road. The coroner said in a news release Nelson was associated with addresses in Mesa and Fort Worth, Texas. The coroner did not specify how Nelson died.
The body was reported to police by a transient during a phone call about 11:30 a.m. Friday. Within hours, Daniel Scott Warner, 47, was booked at Mesa County Jail on suspicion of second-degree murder.
Warner’s arrest warrant is sealed, and Grand Junction police have said little else about the investigation.
According to Boom, day center guests said Nelson recently had befriended Warner, known in camp circles as “Mouse,” along with Warner’s girlfriend.
Nelson and Warner’s girlfriend argued and then fought, Boom said of talk among her clients, who alleged that Warner intervened and fatally wounded Nelson with a hatchet. Police said there were signs of a disturbance in the camp but declined comment on the reports of an altercation between Warner and Nelson.
Sister Karen Bland, director of Grand Valley Catholic Outreach, said records show Nelson had checked in once in August 2010 at the organization’s main facility at 245 S. First St., to be interviewed for homeless assistance services. Nelson left the building prior to completing the interview, Bland said.
Warner, meanwhile, has little criminal history in Colorado, including a 2001 arrest by the Colorado State Patrol for driving under the influence of alcohol, as well as a 2007 arrest in Grand Junction for domestic violence.