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More details emerge in teacher murder case

Suspect reached out to sheriff months before arrest, document shows

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Details are beginning to emerge in the case against Dan Pesch, the man charged with murder in the 2010 death of popular Kiowa High School teacher Randy Wilson.

Pesch, 34, was arrested a few days before Christmas last year and charged with killing Wilson, who was found at the remote crossroads of County Line Road and Kiowa-Bennett Road in Elbert County in June 2010.

Wilson, who was 53 at the time, was found with a bag over his head, a belt around his neck, and his hands bound behind his back. Wilson's car was nearby, and his wallet and credit cards were missing, though the cards were never used.

No suspects were ever named in the case until the surprise announcement of Pesch's arrest by Elbert County investigators on Dec. 19, 2017.

Though a preliminary hearing in the case has seen repeated delays, recently unsealed documents in the case show that it was Pesch who initiated contact with Elbert County investigators in June 2017, six months before his arrest. The documents also show that Pesch met with investigators multiple times in the latter half of 2017 before being arrested outside the Walmart in Elizabeth, near Kiowa, as he was voluntarily driving from the Georgetown area to Elbert County in December.

A judge recently unsealed an affidavit in the case, amounting to the first new information in the case against Pesch since the day he was arrested.

Files that are normally public record, including the dates and times of court hearings, have been suppressed for months. Vikki Migoya, the spokeswoman for the district attorney's office in the 18th Judicial District, said in December that the seal was to protect the integrity of the investigation.

The affidavit is heavily redacted, with lengthy sections blacked out. The sparse new details indicate that Pesch initiated contact with Elbert County Sheriff Shayne Heap through a Facebook message on June 28, 2017, more than seven years after Wilson's death.

Pesch, who was living in Littleton at the time, then voluntarily met with investigators at the Elbert County Sheriff's Office on July 10, Aug. 1, Aug. 9, and Dec. 8, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit goes on to provide the following account of Pesch's apprehension, arrest and detention:

Pesch texted Elbert County investigator Chris Dennis on Dec. 15 and said he had been evicted from his Littleton apartment. Three days later, on Dec. 18, Pesch drove from Georgetown to Elizabeth. Sheriff's office personnel tailed him to the parking lot of the Elizabeth Walmart, where they arrested him and transported him to the Elbert County Sheriff's Office in Kiowa.

Inside the sheriff's office, Pesch signed a waiver of his Miranda rights and agreed to answer questions. A short time later, Pesch was charged with first-degree murder in Wilson's death.

Heap and Dennis escorted Pesch across the parking lot without handcuffs, where he broke free from their grasp and ran across the lot after seeing the jail entrance.

Heap and Dennis grabbed Pesch, handcuffed him, and locked him in a holding cell. Pesch began hitting the wall with his head and fists, prompting deputies to strap Pesch into a restraint chair.

In addition to the murder charge, Pesch was also charged with resisting arrest, obstructing a peace officer and attempting to escape.

Another document helps flesh out a picture of Pesch's recent life: Just seven months before Pesch reached out to the Elbert County sheriff, police in Summit County had targeted him for investigation in a case that was derailed by the actions of a police dog.

Breckenridge police staked out a highway location to pull over and search Pesch in November 2016, according to an affidavit obtained from the Breckenridge Police Department.

According to that affidavit, the incident played out as follows:

Officers laid in wait for Pesch on a stretch of Highway 9 in Summit County, where Pesch lived at the time, in an attempt to pull him over as he was driving — acting on a tip that Pesch dealt cocaine, meth and pills.

Officers pulled Pesch over on a speeding charge, and called a K9 unit to search for drugs. The police dog leaped through the window of the car and “alerted” on a box in the back seat.

Officers searched the car, and found three drivers' licenses, from Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania, none of them in Pesch's name. Officers also found an illegal collapsible baton on the floor of the car, which Pesch said he used as part of “Airsoft” toy gunfights. Police placed Pesch under arrest, and found he was carrying an illegal switchblade.

Pesch was charged with criminal possession of ID documents, possession of a dangerous weapon and speeding.

The case was dropped on Feb. 8, 2017, according to court records.

“I dismissed the case last year because there was no reasonable likelihood of success on the merits, e.g., I could not prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt in light of the totality of the circumstances,” said Lisa Hunt, the senior deputy district attorney in the state's 5th Judicial District, which includes Summit County, in an email.

Hunt said later by phone that the case was unworkable because the drug dog leaped through Pesch's car window, negating his Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure.

Pesch moved to the Denver area roughly a month after the charges were dropped, judging by social media posts, after living in the Summit County area for nearly a decade.

Pesch now remains held without bond in the Elbert County Jail. A preliminary hearing in the murder case, in which the prosecution will present some of the evidence against Pesch, is currently scheduled for 2 p.m., May 21.

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