Update: We've been covering the switchblade murder of homeless, wheelchair-bound Francis Reade near an Aurora shopping complex; see our original items below. Now, however, info from a police report has surfaced that makes what was obviously a senseless act seem even more gruesome and horrible. The document quotes Shawn Lopez, who's been arrested for the crime, as implying he killed Reade more for a creepy thrill than the money he stole from her -- a handful of change he spent on chewing tobacco.
The account of 21-year-old Lopez's action comes from the Aurora Sentinel, which obtained a police report for Michael Snyder, twenty, who's facing accessory charges in the slaying for allegedly helping Lopez cover up the crime.
On April 27, according to the Sentinel, Lopez spotted Reade, 67, in front of a liquor store that's part of a shopping complex on the 15000 block of East Colfax. During an interview conducted after he'd already been in custody for a few days, he reportedly said he then pushed the elderly woman behind the main center, anchored by a King Soopers, with the intention of robbing and killing her.
He's said to have been armed with a switchblade in the shape of a gun. It's not clear from the police document if the weapon has been discovered, but the Autoknife.info website features photos of several vintage items that fit this description. Here's one....
...and here's another:
The idea of taking a life with a blade apparently appealed to Lopez. He's quoted as saying, "I like knives, just because it takes a real crazy, sadistic motherfucker to walk up to somebody and just stab them. Because you're up close and personal. And you know that you're the last face that person is ever going to see in their pathetic little life."
As Lopez wheeled her behind the center, Reade is said to have asked where they were going. He told her not to worry about it, but she was right to be concerned. Lopez told police that he stabbed her in the neck, then took the coins from her purse and went to a gas station in the vicinity. He had just enough to buy some chew.
This gas station near the scene of the crime may have been where Lopez purchased chewing tobacco with his small robbery haul.
Afterward, he headed to a residence where he lived with three others, including Snyder, who's accused of helping Lopez bleach the switchblade. Snyder insists that while he knew Lopez had stabbed someone, he didn't know he'd committed murder. He adds that Lopez had gotten into an argument earlier that day and erupted in rage.
He'll have plenty of time to cool off. He's being held at Adams County Jail without bond. Snyder, for his part, is scheduled in court on May 23.
Update, 5:50 a.m. May 1: Last week, we told you about the horrific slaying of a woman who fit the definition of an at-risk adult in several ways.
She was 67 years old. She was confined to a wheelchair. And she was homeless. See our previous coverage below.
The victim has now been identified as Francine Reade, and a 21-year-old man, Shawn Lewis Lopez, has been formally accused of robbing and killing her.
As we've reported, a man had just finished shopping at a King Soopers on the 15000 block of East Colfax in Aurora when he saw the wheelchair-bound Reade emerge from behind businesses in the strip mall with what appeared to be serious injuries to her upper torso -- and they were.
The 17th Judicial District DA's office reveals that she had been stabbed. She subsequently died of her wounds after being rushed to an area hospital.
It didn't take long for police to pinpoint the apparent crime scene, behind a dry cleaners. And shortly thereafter, Lopez was taken into custody.
At this point, no specifics of her capture or info about what led police to Lopez are being made public due to an ongoing investigation. But we do know the accusations Lopez will be facing: two allegations of first-degree felony murder and one count apiece of first-degree murder, second-degree kidnapping, aggravated robbery and aggravated robbery of an at-risk adult,
Yes, it appears that Reade, who was clearly not a wealthy woman, died because someone wanted to steal from her.
Lopez is due in Adams County court at 8:30 a.m. today to be advised of the charges against him. Continue for our previous coverage.
Look below to see an interactive graphic of the area near the scene. If you have problems seeing the image, click "View Larger Map."
View Larger Map
Continue for our previous coverage. Original post, 1:30 p.m. April 26: Last night, a man was loading groceries into his car after shopping at a King Soopers on the 15000 block of East Colfax in Aurora when he looked up to see something shocking.
Nearby was a 67-year-old woman in a wheelchair who appeared to be hurt -- and she was.
She subsequently died of her wounds, prompting a homicide investigation by the Aurora Police Department. Get details below.
A few minutes before 10 p.m. last night, according to APD spokeswoman Sergeant Cassidee Carlson, officers responded to a call from the man and sped to the scene, which features two strip malls -- a larger one that runs north and south and a smaller east-west one. "He was parked near the west end of the larger strip mall -- the one anchored by the King Soopers," she says. "There are some businesses at the west end, including a dry cleaners, and she was coming out from behind it."
The woman wasn't moving well because of wounds to her upper torso. After police arrived, she was transported to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Officers subsequently found evidence behind the dry cleaners "that led us to believe the crime scene was there," Carlson says. And while the victim has yet to be identified, she was known to officers who covered the area. According to Carlson, "she was homeless. We'd done different welfare checks on her."
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Thus far, the APD has no suspects in the crime. With that in mind, the department encourages anyone with knowledge of this terrible incident to phone Detective Todd Fredericksen at 303-739-6106 or Crime Stoppers at 720-913-STOP (7867), which is offering a reward of up to $2,000 for information leading to the killer's arrest and conviction.
More from our Mile High Murder archive: "Charles Edward Harris ID'd as victim in 38th and Grape homicide, suspect under arrest (72)."