Girl’s body found near Genwood Springs leaves riddle | VailDaily.com

Girl’s body found near Genwood Springs leaves riddle

Kirk Mitchell
The Denver Post

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – A girl’s decomposing body found in a plastic bag appears to be a transplanted horror story.

The body was found Friday morning under apple trees just off Canyon Creek Road, 5 miles west of Glenwood Springs and a quarter mile from Interstate 70.

Nobody has been reported missing from Garfield County, the picturesque tourist area with hot springs and river rafting.

The killer may have murdered the girl in another county or state, driven on I-70 to Glenwood Springs and dumped the body in the orchard, said Holly Hopple, Garfield County sheriff’s spokeswoman.

Whoever killed the girl may have done a simple calculation: small town equals small police force and weak investigation.

But Garfield Sheriff Lou Vallario had another idea. When a teenage orchard worker found the body of the 10- to 12-year-old girl on Friday, Vallario tapped investigators from across Colorado.

His deputies cordoned off the orchard with yellow crime tape. State Patrol troopers shut off Canyon Creek Road, which winds past the orchard. When the road was reopened, officers photographed anyone entering or leaving the area, according to news reports.

A Colorado Bureau of Investigation team of five agents and crime-scene investigators from Grand Junction joined the investigation. County search-and-rescue workers formed long lines to comb the fields surrounding the orchard for evidence.

“Our goal is to ensure we are as meticulous and thorough as possible,” Hopple said.

Other news reports seemed to confirm that the victim had been killed some time ago.

According to an article in The Daily Sentinel of Grand Junction, which quoted a source who lives near the orchard, the bag holding the girl was deteriorating and wild animals had ripped through the plastic and tried to pull the girl out.

Thomas Williams told the newspaper that it appeared whoever left the girl had just dumped her in a spot close to the highway.

“It looked to me like somebody pulled up to the road going up Canyon Creek and then just threw it off the side of the road and it ended up in the orchard,” he was quoted as saying.

Authorities have not arrested anyone.

“We don’t have any suspects,” Hopple said.

An autopsy was performed at 4 p.m. in Grand Junction. The identity of the victim remains a mystery.

Kirk Mitchell: 303-954-1206 or kmitchell@denverpost.com