Suspect in infant’s death accused of stealing from needy

A man who remains under investigation in the death of his infant son burglarized his own office at the Mesa County Workforce Center, stole hundreds of dollars in cash and vouchers intended for needy parents and stole a company van in June, according to court records recently made public.

Dartanin Mitchell, 33, of Grand Junction, is scheduled to appear Tuesday before District Judge Richard Gurley, and he may enter into a plea agreement on charges in two felony cases, including second-degree burglary and aggravated motor-vehicle theft.

His arrest affidavits were unsealed last week.

Characterized during a June 22 court appearance by District Attorney Pete Hautzinger as the “prime suspect” in the death of his infant son, Mitchell is free after a posting a $15,000 bond.

The death of infant Lucius Lee Mitchell in June remains under investigation.

Dartanin Mitchell, at the time a specialist with Family First, a Hilltop Community Resources program providing assistance to young parents, is charged in the June 3 burglary at Family First’s office. The office is housed at the Mesa County Workforce Center, 2897 North Ave.

Affidavits said Jackie Sievers, director of Hilltop’s Child and Family Services program, identified Mitchell on video surveillance as the burglar who entered the office in the predawn hours of June 3. Employees found a metal drop box near the office, where child-care payments in the form of checks and cash were dropped off, was missing, the affidavits said.

Also missing were a cash box, vouchers and gift cards worth hundreds of dollars from Walmart, Albertsons and other stores, and a Wells Fargo debit card belonging to the Mesa County Workforce Center, according to the affidavits.

The debit card was canceled, and no unauthorized charges were found.

Cash in two nearby modular buildings also was missing, the affidavit said.

Mitchell allegedly used his work keys to enter several of the buildings, forcing entry into at least one. The video surveillance showed a burglar entered around 1:47 a.m. June 3 and left around 2:16 a.m.

Hilltop officials said Mitchell was fired June 8, two days after Hilltop reported to police that a van owned by the organization had been stolen.

Sievers said Mitchell on May 27 was given permission to take the van to Denver, where Mitchell’s son had been flown after he reportedly was injured that same day at a home in the 2900 block of Bunting Avenue.

Authorities have not specified the boy’s injuries. He died at Children’s Hospital in Denver on June 12.

The affidavit said when Sievers learned on June 1 that Mitchell was being investigated for suspected child abuse, she called Mitchell that same day and told him he couldn’t use the van anymore and he was being placed on administrative leave.

Sievers on June 6 went to Denver and met Mitchell at Children’s Hospital. Mitchell told Sievers the van was at his brother’s home in Denver, the affidavit said.

Mitchell allegedly provided Sievers with a nonexistent address for where the van was located, and he stopped answering his cell phone, the affidavit said.


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