Stabbing victim remembered as ‘true friend’
As Mesa County Sheriff’s Department investigators are trying to understand the circumstances of the fatal stabbing of 31-year-old Abel Roper of Fruita, Roper’s friends are mourning his passing.
Roper, described by friend Ken Smalley as “always a champion of the downtrodden,” died Thursday morning in the guest parking space at Pioneer Village mobile home park, 3195 F Road.
Anyone who knows of Roper’s whereabouts from Wednesday night to Thursday morning is asked to contact investigator Lissah Norcross at 244-3252.
Authorities were called about 6:40 a.m. Thursday to the park, where residents reported an unfamiliar vehicle with a man who was at first kneeling outside the vehicle, then prone.
Why Roper pulled into the quiet neighborhood, where he died in a snowstorm, still remains to be determined.
Roper was dead when authorities arrived, Sgt. Matt Lewis said. Investigators ruled the death a homicide Friday.
Roper, according to Smalley, was the father of two young girls and was engaged to be married.
He had worked in the oil fields and owned his own home before he was 30, Smalley said.
Despite a 20-year age difference, the elder Smalley said Roper was “one of my best friends,” and he called him an accomplished cook who could turn out a mean brisket. He said he taught Roper how to play the guitar after the two met and sang karaoke at what was then Rumours Bar in Fruita, Smalley said.
He is left to wonder what prompted Roper to be in Fruitvale, far from his Fruita home, early Thursday morning, Smalley said.
“If he was your friend, he treated you like family,” Smalley said, “One of the most true friends you could ever have.”