Mindy Lee Disappearance Getting New Review Nearly 13 Years Later
In late 2010, tragedy struck Woodland Park as a 33-year-oldManitou Springs woman and young mom, who was reportedly missing for several days, was found dead near the WP high school football field.
The Mindy Lee case ignited much controversy in the community, as following her disappearance, the family cried foul play and said that the story of the friends that she was with just didn’t add up.
Police officials at the time classified her death as an apparent suicide. Based on a an earlier KRDO report, the Teller County Coroner found “very high levels of methamphetamine and amphetamine” in Lee’s body. However, the coroner stated her cause of death was hypothermia caused by “methamphetamine intoxication.” Her death was ruled accidental. The police, though, later determined it be self-inflicted.
Questions, though, have persisted about the case for years.
Now, 13 years later, the door has been opened for re-investigating her death in more detail due to the use of more modern technology. Plus, some big law enforcement hitters, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, will be assisting in the new inquiry into Lee’s death.
Last week, the Woodland Park Police Department public announced that the case involving death of Lee would be re-opened. In their announcement, the decision to re-open the investigation came from Police Chief Chris Deisler.
Over the last 13 years, the family has continued their search for what really happened on the night before Thanksgiving in 2010. In fact, since the Woodland Park Police Department deactivated the investigation, the story has received national attention when it was discussed during an episode on the podcast “Crime Stories with Nancy Grace.”
The tragic story started on Nov. 26, 2010 at around 8 p.m. when friends of Mindy Lee reported that she had jumped out of their vehicle and took off on foot towards the high school without shoes on. The friends said they were concerned that Lee was running around with snow on the ground barefooted, in frigid temperatures without the proper clothing.
After getting word of her disappearance, law enforcement agents and the community launched a widespread search for Lee. The search commenced from that Wednesday night through the weekend with friends, family, and police all looking for the missing Manitou Springs woman.
Without having luck over the weekend, Lee’s family decided to launch a community-wide search for Lee the next Monday morning. However ,before the search started, a school resource officer found Lee’s body near the high school football on the morning of Monday Dec. 1, 2010.
The body was found under or near 55 gallon barrels next to a shed on the south side of the football field. The autopsy that was conducted several days later concluded that the cause of death was hypothermia.
The police conducted a brief investigation before ruling the death a suicide. The police claim that Lee left her friends and then went to the area by the football field before she died.
Private Investigator Searches for Answers
After the police closed the case and ruled the death a suicide, Lee’s family went to former homicide detective and private investigator Bobby Brown to find answers. In 2017, Brown appeared on famous crime reporter Nancy Grace’s podcast discussing the case.
Brown said that after researching the case, he found several problems with the investigation and called it a “debacle.” He said that one of the main focal points that caught his attention dealt with the fact that Lee had called her mother at around 6 p.m. the night she went missing, In addition, she only whispered “mom” several times over the phone.
That conversation would be the last time her mother would hear from her daughter. The phone call then made the family believe that perhaps she had called for help and something seriously went wrong.
Brown then discussed problems with the police investigation and he brought up several holes in the story told by Lee’s friends. The friends had said that they took Lee to an urgent care facility because she had laryngitis, but there was no record of her going to the medical center.
Brown also said that her family didn’t think that she would leave a vehicle barefooted while her four year old daughter was still in the car. The family also said that they had searched the area several times where her body was found.
Brown said that after taking on the case he found several problems with the investigation. During the search, police records showed that a canine unit indicated a scent at a vacant home behind the high school. But the house was never searched.
In addition, Brown said that he saw pictures of the autopsy and didn’t see any scratches on her feet which most likely would have occurred had she been running on the rough terrain barefooted. He also said that he didn’t see signs on Lee’s body that she had a drug problem like was stated in the police report.
Brown also mentioned the fact that another woman was found dead frozen to death on the side of the road near where the incident occurred about two years later. Brown said that he was investigating to see if the two cases were related.
Brown isn’t the only crime expert that expressed doubts about the police department’s initial verdict.
In fact, a Change.org petition was started in 2019 to get “justice and answers” for Lee and her family. On the petition, the organizer accuses the WPPD of “missteps” and that police “muddled up what really happened” to Lee, according to KRDO.
The petition organizer contended that search dogs allegedly “hit” an abandoned house on day three of her missing but it was never “thoroughly” searched.
In their announcement, the WP Police don’t specify why case is being re-opened, now nearly 13 years after Lee’s death. “As is oftentimes the case with the passage of time, technology, advances in forensics, and community engagement may reveal additional leads or information we can use to further investigate cases like Mindy’s,” stated the police in their announcement that was released to the media and appeared on key social media outlets.
“Alongside our partners at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Teller County Sheriff’s Office, we will begin the process of examining the case for ways to garner additional information related to Mindy’s death. While it is impossible to say what, if any, additional information will be discovered from this process, it is our hope that the public and most importantly Mindy’s family find encouragement in this development.”
The police ask that if anyone has information to come forward to police. If anyone does have information surrounding Lee’s death they can submit an anonymous tip through the Pikes Peak Area Crime Stoppers at 719-634-7867.