Top crime stories from the past 25 years of the Steamboat Today newspaper
July 2, 1990
Gocken pleads guilty to manslaughter
Victor Gocken pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the April 1979 death of Linda White, 21, of Steamboat. White’s body was never found although blood matching her rare blood type and a piece of human skull were found in Gocken’s bathroom. The bathtub was dented in a number of places. Gocken served just two years of a five-year sentence on the manslaughter conviction. In 1990, he was convicted of the murder of an Auburn, Washington, woman. Sentenced to 45 years, Gocken died in prison.
Sept. 18, 1991
Coleman double murder-suicide
Many of the local slayings in past decades have involved love triangles, separated husbands and wives or family problems. Bill Coleman, 45, shot to death his estranged wife, Jan, also 45, and her 43-year-old boyfriend, Luke McKee, on Sept. 18, 1991, at a home on Clubhouse Drive in Steamboat Springs. An eight-hour standoff with police ensued at Coleman’s business on Twentymile Road. Coleman shot himself in the head and died a few days later.
Nov. 24, 1993
Black Widow killing
The murder of 52-year-old Steamboat Springs businessman Gerald Boggs on Oct. 21, 1993, was dubbed the “Black Widow” killing because of some bizarre circumstances involving one of two defendants in the case, which drew international attention. The interest of newspapers and tabloid TV shows didn’t wane until the case was eclipsed by the O.J. Simpson murder trial. Ultimately, Boggs’ former wife, Jill Coit, and her boyfriend, Michael Backus, were convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole. Coit had been married to at least seven other men and was a prime suspect in the 1972 shooting death of one husband, William C. Coit, in Houston.
Aug. 5, 1995
Hell’s Angels shooting
Two California men were shot in Steamboat at the Iron Horse Inn while attending the Hell’s Angels USA World Run 1996 that was strangely held here. A suspect or suspects entered the hotel room and shot the men, who survived. Between 200 and 250 Hell’s Angels members were in town for their annual convention. Gang experts and federal agents were called in to help local police. In addition to the shootings, police received complaints from people about the loud motorcycles, and several bar fights were attributed to the gang.
May 13, 2000/June 24, 2000
Johnson sentenced to life
Thomas Lee Johnson was sentenced to life behind bars Jan. 16, 2002, for killing Steamboat resident Lori Bases. A 12-member jury determined Johnson planned to kill Bases the evening of May 11, 2000, when he drove from Denver to Bases’ apartment. Johnson stabbed Bases more than 20 times. Authorities believed he killed the 31-year-old woman because he thought she was interfering with his relationship with Kim Goodwin, a good friend of Bases’. Johnson claimed he killed Bases in self-defense. Because of faulty instructions given to the jury, Johnson won an appeal and was re-tried in 2009. He was again found guilty of first-degree murder.
Sept. 2, 2002
Shaken baby case lands Crider in prison
After pleading guilty to two felonies, Wesley Crider was sentenced in September 2000 to six years in prison for causing injuries that left his infant son in a “vegetative state.” According to an arrest warrant, Crider, who was a state trooper at the time, caused “extensive internal devastation” to the head of his then-9-week-old son, Matthew, on the night of Jan. 14, 2000, at their home in Hayden. Doctors testified that Matthew was shaken violently. Crider’s wife, Jaquelyn Crider, told the court during the sentencing hearing of the couple’s “rocky relationship” that involved an affair, her husband’s repeated suicide threats and prior abuse of Matthew.
Mom spending life in prison after killing infant
Luz Cisneros is serving life in prison after killing her 1-year-old daughter with a knife after her longtime boyfriend and the father of her child ended their relationship.
Leading up to the Sept. 6, 2007, murder, Cisneros had threatened to harm their daughter. The father, Isaias Simon, took the threat as psychological abuse. Simon said in 2013 he never had seen such a loving mother, and he did not think she was capable of hurting Brianna. Simon said he does not know whether or not Cisneros killed their daughter in order to punish him.
Jan. 6, 2009
Jukebox disagreement leads to death
Eduardo Capote was sentenced in June 2010 to three years in prison for his role in the January 2009 death of Richard Lopez. Eduardo and brother, David Capote, both of Miami, got into a disagreement with Lopez and his two companions. The altercation began after the two groups insulted one another about jukebox song choice at The Tap House Sports Grill in downtown Steamboat. The groups later crossed paths. There were differing accounts of what happened next, but the end result was that after being hit by Eduardo Capote, Lopez fell to the asphalt and slammed his head. He died from severe head and brain trauma.
Oct. 22, 2010
Steamboat developer hires hit man
Part-time Steamboat Springs resident and developer Brooks Kellogg was sentenced to six years in prison in 2011 for hiring someone to kill a former business partner, a crime the federal judge said was about “greed with a capital G.” Kellogg was arrested in October 2010 after FBI agents said he flew to Denver and paid an undercover agent he thought was a hit man $2,000 to kill Steven Bunyard. Kellogg owed Bunyard $2.5 million as part of a legal settlement over Chadwick Estates, a Steamboat development.
July 12, 2012
Husband murders wife, turns gun on himself
With his marriage of 42 years coming apart, Larry Appel murdered his wife before shooting himself July 11, 2012. Chris Appel, 60, was found lying on the living room floor of her rural Steamboat home. She had been shot at least nine times. Larry Appel, 64, was found in the master bedroom. On Chris Appel’s laptop, investigators found a letter where she explained the relationship was not working, and once their financial problems were resolved, she was going to leave her husband. Investigators do not know whether Larry Appel saw the letter.
May 30, 2013
Community mourns death of Asher
The Routt County community still is mourning the loss of 9-year-old Asher Lesyshen-Kirlan, who was shot by his mother May 29, 2013. Lisa Lesyshen then shot herself at their Stagecoach home. During a preliminary hearing, husband Michael Kirlan described how he had become unhappy with his marriage to Lesyshen and how things grew violent after she “hacked into” his email account and discovered he was seeing another woman. On Aug. 18, 2014, Lesyshen was sentenced to 40 years in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder.
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