Teller officials investigate first homicide in years

The Teller County Sheriff’s Office still hasn’t named any suspects regarding the agency’s first significant murder investigation in years, with the alleged killing occurring in a remote area between Woodland Park and Divide near North Catamount Reservoir.

After a week of silence, officials late last week confirmed that the death of 25-year-old John Byron Hogan of Colorado Springs has been classified as a homicide. However, authorities are still tight-lipped regarding the specifics of the murder, such as how he died. The incident occurred at a Elk Lane residence, where Hogan was reportedly house-sitting for a couple who reportedly went on vacation.

According to Teller County Sgt. Nick Olmsted, authorities are interviewing friends and acquaintances of Hogan, who apparently didn’t have many dealings in Teller County. Hogan, a graduate of Mitchell High School, also was never in any kind of trouble with the law, according to authorities. “He was just a good all-around kid,” said Olmsted.

The case has puzzled law enforcement officials and local neighbors. “I can’t even remember the last time we even had a burglary in that area,” said Olmsted. The neighborhood, located off a dirt road, has been more troubled in the past by trespassers and outdoor buffs trying to experience a little free fishing at the North Catamount Reservoir.

Residents were recently jolted by the sight of Teller law officers and representatives of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation combing through the neighborhood in search of clues. In addition, Teller County Search and Rescue workers were spotted standing shoulder to shoulder in the nearby trees. Sections of the neighborhood have been sealed off from motorists to facilitate the investigation.

Olmsted, though, maintained that local residents are not endangered in any way. “I do not believe the residents there have any reason to be concerned,” said the sergeant. Although not dwelling into specifics, Olmsted classified this particular homicide as a “specific” crime, and not something directed at residents in the area.

Teller law officers got involved in the case when the owners of the house on Elk Lane reported that Hogan was missing on July 7. They had returned from their trip and hadn’t found any traces of the house-sitter, according to officials. This report was initially filed with the Colorado State Patrol. When a deputy arrived at the scene on July 8, he found the dead body of Hogan at the residence near the intersection of Elk Lane and Winding Valley Drive, according to previous media reports. Teller County Coroner Al Born stated that Hogan had been dead for more than 24 hours.

However, for about a week, Teller authorities refused to release any details, other than to confirm his death was not a suicide. A court order was issued to protect details of the investigation. Last week, the front door of the house and several vehicles in the driveway contained tape left by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, according to neighbors. Olmsted said a number of vehicles in the area have been searched for evidence.

Officials, though, are silent about the exact spot of the killing. More details, though, may be released later this week. The sheriff’s department is asking for assistance from local residents who may have spotted some unusual behavior in the area. If anyone has any information regarding this case, call 687-9652.

The investigation actually marks one of the agency’s first significant homicide cases, not involving a domestic dispute, in years.

In the past, Teller has averaged about one homicide per year, according to Olmsted. But for the last several years, the area hasn’t had any homicides. The recent murders in Teller have mostly involved domestic squabbles. One of the more pronounced and publicized killings occurred at Manitou Lake, when a caretaker, who many locals referred to as a friendly and personable guy, killed his wife, their young child and himself.