Arrest Made: In connection with the Saturday stabbing victim found in Denver’s Mar Lee neighborhood, a 22-year-old male has been detained.
An individual was found face down on the ground at Sanderson Gulch Park on January 14 at about 4:03 p.m. and seemed unresponsive. Denver police officers were summoned to the scene.
DPD stated that the victim, a 50-year-old Hispanic man with several blunt force injuries to his torso, was discovered by police when they arrived in the park close to the 1600 block of South Hazel Court. The individual was later pronounced deceased at the scene at 4:19 p.m.
After speaking with witnesses for about 90 minutes, DPD detectives managed to track down the suspect, 22-year-old Joshua Vargas-Belmontes, on the 1500 block of South Hazel Court and apprehended him in connection with the first-degree murder investigation. During this arrest, a knife may have had blood on it.
Timeline of Events According To DPD’s Investigation
First Witness’s Statement
A local witness who told authorities he had been shopping at a Savers store nearby and didn’t want to go home just yet said he had decided to stroll to the park instead, according to DPD’s Probable Cause statement. He noticed an aggressive man standing over the victim, clutching a cinderblock while walking through Hazel Court.
The witness told the detectives that the suspect, a Hispanic man with a shaved head and wearing a blue Adidas jacket with white stripes on the sleeves, followed him and kept up the aggressive behavior.
Following that, the witness informed DPD that the suspect—later identified as Vargas-Belmontes—kept asking him questions like, “What are you doing here for?” and “Where are you going/doing from?” Vargas-Belmontes is also accused of approaching the witness, removing his headphones, and yelling that he would follow him.
The witness stated he walked across the street from his property and entered a Walgreens, where he allegedly sought to hide in the aisles out of fear of revealing where he resided to Vargas-Belmontes.
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Then, according to allegations, Vargas-Belmontes entered Walgreens and started conversing with the clerk. The cashier informed the witness that Vargas-Belmontes had claimed he was looking for him after he had left the store.
Vargas-Belmontes was eventually identified using images from the store’s surveillance camera. The witness claims that he observed Vargas-Belmontes traveling north on Federal before turning east on Florida Avenue.
The witness left the park and went back because “he was anxious about his condition,” according to the Probable Cause statement, before returning to check on the victim. The victim was surrounded by rescue vehicles and staff when the witness left and returned to Sanderson Gulch Park.
Additional Witnesses’ Statements
The “perhaps homeless” pair approached the man and woman who were walking their dog in the park with emergency workers, wanting to use a phone to call the police because the man lying face down was possibly dead, according to the DPD’s Probable Cause statement.
After telling the dog-walking pair that they did not want to call the police, the perhaps homeless couple informed them they were leaving the area before the police came.
Following the transport of all witnesses to the Denver Police Department‘s main office, Vargas-Belmontes was quickly recognized in a picture lineup.
Vargas-Belmontes reportedly refused to speak to detectives when they tried to question him at about 9:14 p.m. on Saturday, according to DPD. Before being found guilty, all suspects are presumed innocent.
The inquiry also revealed that Vargas-Belmontes was seen breaking into a car near the stabbing location earlier on Saturday. Documents left in that car were linked to Vargas-Belmontes. Call the Metro Denver Crime Stoppers at 720-913-7867 if you have any information that could be useful to the investigators.
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