This case will be more difficult to make when it comes to Lucas Johnson.
The man accused of killing Edward Zimmerman, reportedly a marijuana grower in Routt County, has a long criminal history, including pot busts in states where cannabis remains against the law, as well as at least one arrest in which violence was allegedly at the heart of the offense.
The first report on the case from Steamboat Today, published on March 3, focused on the disappearance of Zimmerman, seen in this family photo shared with the paper:
Even at that early stage, however, law enforcement doubted that he'd simply taken off of his own free will.
Zimmerman's sister, Robin Mizerak, told the paper that Edward was reported missing the previous Saturday, February 28, after he didn't show up for work shifts at his main job, as a server at Three Peaks Grill, for two days straight.
She noted that while his dog was at his home on Yellow Jacket Drive, near the community of Stagecoach, Edward was nowhere to be found.
She added that fifteen of Edwards's marijuana plants had been taken, with an additional twenty knocked over — one reason agents with the Colorado Bureau of Investigations were treating his place as a crime scene.
Here's an interactive graphic from Steamboat Today showing the location of Zimmerman's resident.
Then, on the 3rd, Johnson was arrested in Phippsburg on suspicion of car theft — and while the law enforcers wouldn't confirm that the vehicle in question had belonged to Zimmerman, there certainly seemed to be some connection.
By Thursday, a first-degree-murder charge had been added to Johnson's rap sheet.
In addition, his wife, Kristen Johnson, was taken into custody on a conspiracy-to-commit-first-degree-murder count, plus one pertaining to child abuse.
At that point, authorities weren't saying if they'd located Zimmerman's body. But on Friday, March 6, they revealed that remains found in a still-undisclosed spot had been identified as Zimmerman.
Meanwhile, more information emerged about Lucas Johnson's criminal past. In 2006, he was arrested in Florida for possession of at least twenty grams of marijuana, resulting in this photo...
More recently, in Georgia circa April 2014, WMGT revealed that Johnson had been arrested following a traffic stop.
Found in the vehicle, according to the station, was "a small amount of heroin, two to three pounds of marijuana and $100,130.00 in cash."
Here's his booking photo from that escapade:
The station also made mention of drug-related busts in Kansas and New York, in addition to the Florida offense.
On top of that, Steamboat Today noted an aggravated assault charge out of Utah.
At present, Lucas is being held without bail, while Kristen has been fitted with a $200,000 bond.
In the meantime, Zimmerman's family has launched a GoFundMe campaign to pay for his funeral expenses. The page's introduction reads:
Our dear friend Ed Zimmerman lost his life in a very tragic way. He was a kind loving father, the most giving man, who loved everyone he knew in the community. We are asking for prayers and your support for the family at this time, any donations to the Zimmerman family for funeral cost would be greatly appreciated. Thank you all for your support for the Zimmerman family.At this writing, $675 has been pledged toward a goal of $5,000.
Here's a brief WGMT report, followed by the booking photo for Kristen Johnson and the full-size version of Lucas Johnson's most recent mug shot.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.