Woman found dead in Aspen died of head injury
ASPEN – Aspen police said Wednesday they are not sure what led to the death of 54-year-old Cheryl Ann Lurie, whose body was discovered by a passerby Monday morning.
Scott Thompson, deputy coroner, said the longtime Aspen resident died of a “blunt force trauma to the head. The manner [of death] is undetermined.”
Thompson declined to disclose the specific type of injuries that Lurie suffered because the case is under investigation.
Police Chief Richard Pryor said, “We can’t rule out anything at this time. We are asking people to base what they know on the facts that we have, instead of taking the path of least resistance” in reference to speculation that foul play had occurred.
He added “there’s always room for questioning” what happened.
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On Wednesday, the police department issued a news release seeking information about Lurie’s whereabouts on Sunday evening, the night before she was found. Lurie, who was 5-foot, 2-inches tall, “was last seen wearing a short black down jacket with colorful embroidery, black fleece hat, black boots, and carrying a red leather purse,” according to the press release.
Pryor said police have determined that the last time she was seen was outdoors, “in the vicinity of Mill [Street] and Hyman [Avenue].” Aspen Police Detective Chris Womack said Lurie had been at Bentley’s at the Wheeler before leaving for her Hunter Creek home.
Neither police nor Thompson, the coroner, have established the time of Lurie’s death.
Likewise, Pryor said it’s too early to tell when the investigation will conclude.
“We have talked to a significant number of people,” he said, adding that police are reviewing surveillance video footage from in-town locations he would not disclose.
The police department is the lead investigating agency for the incident, with assistance from the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office and the coroner, Pryor said.
Police immediately cordoned off the area where Lurie’s body was located after they were notified at approximately 10:30 a.m. Monday, Pryor said. The area was taped off until at least 2 p.m. Monday, according to police spokeswoman Stephanie Dasaro.
When the area had been dismissed as a crime scene, the leading theory was that Lurie died from hypothermia, Thompson reported his findings Tuesday afternoon, causing police to alter their investigation. And at approximately 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, the area was again cordoned off after police learned of Thompson’s findings. Police tape had been removed as of 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.
All unattended deaths are treated as homicides at the beginning of an investigation, Pryor noted, “and then we work our way down.”
The cause of Lurie’s death – blunt force head trauma – can come from a variety of means. It can be the cause of death in ski accidents, car crashes, homicides or a fall to the ground, among other scenarios.
Police are asking people with any information about the death of Lurie to call the department at 925-5400.
Aspen Times staff writer Scott Condon contributed to this report.