Mother questions investigation of Virginia woman’s death in Glenwood Springs

Lurina Rios

A Virginia woman is questioning the investigation by Glenwood Springs police into the Nov. 17 death of her daughter.

Lurina Rios, 26, was found dead in her room in Glenwood Springs. The autopsy ruled the death to be an accident resulting from alcohol and drug intoxication.

However, Rios’ mother, Dee Wickham, says police ignored bruising on her body that indicates she was assaulted before her death, even if it wasn’t what killed her.

“Our daughter was assaulted, and no one will do anything about it,” Wickham said.

Glenwood Police Chief Terry Wilson stands by his department’s handling of the investigation.

“I’ve seen it before with people where they just can’t accept that what happened, happened. I can’t blame them. I mean, it’s a horrible thing,” he said.

The toxicology report indicated Rios had used methamphetamine and cocaine before her death and had a blood-alcohol content of 0.42 percent, more than five times the legal limit for driving under the influence in Colorado.

“We know she may not have made the best choices in life,” Wickham said.

Still, she said it’s wrong for police to have ignored the signs of assault.

“There’s going to be some other girl that’s going to be beaten up by the same person, and it’s going to continue,” Wickham said.

Wickham saw her daughter’s body after her death and said her injuries included a broken nose, a busted lip, a black eye, bruised cheekbones and bruising to her arms, legs and chest, some of which appear to have resulted from her trying to defend herself. The autopsy report mentions bruising to the eye, an associated hemorrhage and bruises on her legs and a knuckle of her hand.

Witnesses said Rios had gone to her room to go to bed and was found face-down on the floor, Wilson said. The bruising appears consistent with her having fallen, he said.

“What we’re seeing is someone that got incredibly intoxicated and went to their room and tipped over,” he said.

Jim Gonzales is Wickham’s uncle and a retired law enforcement officer who decades ago had worked as a fellow cop in Glenwood Springs with Wilson. He said Rios was in “quite a physical fight” before her death and that police failed to treat her residence as a possible crime scene and properly gather evidence.

“It’s atrocious what the Police Department did, or let’s say lack thereof,” he said.

Wickham said police should have interviewed witnesses separately rather than together.

Wilson said Rios’ death is a closed case.

“It’s a tragic situation, but we have to get off of it,” he said.

Wickham took her concerns to the office of U.S. Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., who wrote her back saying he had written Wilson to ask him to review the case. Wilson said he has received no such letter.


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