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Can't Buy a Thrill

Aspen's bizarre crime spree sent some of its favorite sons to prison -- and left the town wondering what went wrong.

They split the money four ways, more than five thousand bucks apiece, and slipped $100 to Jacob for his valuable information. ("I just took it," Jacob told the cops. "I mean, a hundred bucks. I needed to get my bike fixed.") Yuri bought a motorcycle and a kayak. Moses invested in a quarter-pound of pot. Cody went on his trip to Atlantic City, took a bunch of friends to the Little Nell for lunch, bought a CD burner to add to his DJ equipment.

But Cody had trouble sleeping. The day after the robbery, he threw masks, gloves and other evidence from the heist down a mine shaft on some family property. He still couldn't sleep. In his mind, he saw the faces of the people he'd robbed. He went into Clark's all the time. His mom swapped jokes with the clerk behind the register; the manager had once pulled Kim out of a car wreck. These were the people he'd held at gunpoint.

He felt horrible every time he looked at the CD burner. The rest of the money disappeared quickly, and he didn't know where it went. He stuck a wad of cash in a hole in the ceiling of his closet, and then it was gone -- liberated, maybe, by Moses or one of his other friends.

Aspen school superintendent Tom Farrell visited several of the robbers in jail: "Every little kid in town knew who they were."The youngest of the Aspen robbers, Cody Wille was handed one of the harshest sentences. Now a resident of the state's Youthful Offender System, he turned eighteen last month.Raoul Wille (right), Cody's father, was a legendary risk-taker who died in the Himalayas. Following her son's arrest, Kim Wille (above) embarked on a quest to bring restorative justice programs to the Roaring Fork Valley.His first burglary was such a rush that Yuri Ognacevic agreed to be the wheel man on an armed robbery.Jacob Richards (top) helped Moses Greengrass (center) and others plan the Clark's Market robbery. Two weeks later, Wade Hammond (bottom) joined Greengrass in a similar robbery in Snowmass.
Aspen school superintendent Tom Farrell visited several of the robbers in jail: "Every little kid in town knew who they were."The youngest of the Aspen robbers, Cody Wille was handed one of the harshest sentences. Now a resident of the state's Youthful Offender System, he turned eighteen last month.Raoul Wille (right), Cody's father, was a legendary risk-taker who died in the Himalayas. Following her son's arrest, Kim Wille (above) embarked on a quest to bring restorative justice programs to the Roaring Fork Valley.His first burglary was such a rush that Yuri Ognacevic agreed to be the wheel man on an armed robbery.Jacob Richards (top) helped Moses Greengrass (center) and others plan the Clark's Market robbery. Two weeks later, Wade Hammond (bottom) joined Greengrass in a similar robbery in Snowmass.
The youngest of the Aspen robbers, Cody Wille was handed one of the harshest sentences. Now a resident of the state's Youthful Offender System, he turned eighteen last month.
Brett Amole
The youngest of the Aspen robbers, Cody Wille was handed one of the harshest sentences. Now a resident of the state's Youthful Offender System, he turned eighteen last month.

He was learning. Too late, maybe, but the lesson was unmistakable. There is no honor among thieves. Not even in Aspen.


The day after the robbery at Clark's, two masked men robbed the office of the Aspen Alps condominium complex, getting away with more than a thousand dollars. Anthony Rizzuto and Thomas Colver have been charged with the crime; Colver had previously worked in the Aspen Alps office. Wade Hammond would later tell police that the pair borrowed his BB gun and seemed "pissed" at being left out of the Clark's job. Jacob Richards would say that the two "joked about how they should have just shot" the female clerk.

A week later, on August 14, Colver, Rizzuto and another youth were stopped by Aspen police officers after reports that their silver Audi had been seen streaking into town from the direction of Independence Pass at close to 100 miles an hour. A search of the vehicle and its occupants turned up a small quantity of marijuana and psychedelic mushrooms. A total of seven officers were involved in the traffic stop. Colver and Rizzuto were already on a list of robbery suspects police had assembled, and the bust was handled with a high degree of caution.

On August 19, it was Wade Hammond's turn to catch the wave. He joined Moses and a third youth in an assault on the Village Market, a grocery store in Snowmass. Wearing masks made from T-shirts, the trio burst through a back door, ordered the clerk to the floor, and emptied the wide-open safe of approximately $11,000. As they were leaving, one of the robbers -- according to statements Wade and Moses made to police, it was Stefan Schutter -- struck the clerk on the head with the butt of his BB gun, possibly because he feared the clerk was reaching for an alarm. Schutter's lawyer, Denver attorney Scott Robinson, has denied any involvement by his client and hinted that the robbers are protecting someone else.

The pace cooled over the next few weeks as several of the teens headed off to college. In late August, while Cody was attending the music conference in Atlantic City, Kim Wille followed her nose to the Green Room and found a group of eighth-graders who'd broken in and were smoking pot. They were ejected, and the room was closed for good.

But the crime wave was far from over. There were some latecomers to the party, including eighteen-year-old Nathan Morse -- whose brief association with Moses and company would wind up cracking the case and sending a pack of teens fleeing to Canada.

The son of the executive director of the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club, Nathan was a champion Nordic skier and one of the more enigmatic figures in the youthquake. He'd been accepted at prestigious Middlebury College in Vermont but had moved out of his parents' house and was living on his own, working as a laborer with the 10th Mountain Division hut system, when he began to drift into larceny. Some of his friends believed Nathan had raided old mining camps and had access to dynamite, and there was loose talk about a group of youths plotting to blow up power stations and the Castle Creek bridge on New Year's Eve, leaving Aspen to welcome the year 2000 in bitter darkness.

The crimes Nathan was actually charged with were much more mundane. He'd had no car since his split with his parents. One day he was hoofing it back to his place a mile outside of town, lugging groceries, when he came across a rich tourist standing outside the Aspen Club, cell phone in hand, a white Jeep Cherokee idling nearby. He returned on a subsequent errand and the Jeep was still there, still burning up precious natural resources, while the tourist gabbed and gabbed.

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