William Lornes's conviction -- and how a lottery ticket helped bust kidnapper for murder
William Lornes. Additional photos and more below.
A kidnapping at the Cherry Creek Mall and the murder of a Denver man whose body was found in a dumpster. At first glance, these crimes have little in common. But now, the same suspect -- William Lornes -- has been convicted of committing both of them and could spend the rest of his life in prison when he's sentenced later this month.
How did authorities connect Lornes to these incidents? Arrest affidavits on view below tell a story straight out of a Hollywood screenplay -- including an element of luck represented, appropriately enough, by a lottery ticket.
The inquiry into the kidnapping came first. At about 3 p.m. on April 13, 2011, according to the initial affidavit, a woman contacted the Denver Police Department to report having been kidnapped at gun point in her 2004 maroon Saturn Ion.
The victim's 2004 Saturn Ion.
The woman told the cops that she worked at the Cherry Creek Mall and had just parked on the fifth level of the center's parking structure when a man later identified as Lornes approached her vehicle and asked her for a cigarette and to use her phone.
Then, after he looked around, Lornes is said to have pulled out a silver handgun and told the woman, "You are going to drive me. Unlock your doors."
After climbing into the backseat, the report continues, Lornes directed the woman to motor away from the mall. He made conversation along the way, but also demanded that she hand over her wedding ring.
After a short drive, Lornes ordered the woman to pull into an alley and told her to get out from behind the wheel and climb into the Ion's trunk. After pleading for her life, she did so, and moments later, she could feel the vehicle drive off. However, she was able to find the trunk's interior release latch and clicked it open. She held it down until the car slowed, at which point she jumped out, landing on her stomach. Once free, she was able to scramble to a nearby 7-Eleven and call for help.
An earlier mug shot of William Lornes.
A short time later, a one-car accident took place on Highway 285 at mile marker 240, the narrative notes. A deputy called to the scene found the vehicle abandoned but saw a red Toyota Highlander driving slowly by the scene with two men inside. Officers then conducted what's described as a "high risk felony" stop on the Highlander near C-470 and Morrison Road. Among the men inside was Lornes -- and his silver handgun.
Lornes was taken into custody and put into a lineup observed by the kidnapping victim. She had no problem picking him out.
Meanwhile, that same day, a terrible discovery was made in a Denver alley.
Continue for more about William Lornes's conviction and how a lottery ticket helped bust the kidnapper for murder, including additional photos and two arrest affidavits.
At 5:07 p.m. on the same day, April 13, 2011, the second affidavit below recounts a 911 call about a body found in a dumpster behind 1263 Hudson Street, an area seen in the following interactive graphic. If you have problems seeing the image, click "View Larger Map."
View Larger Map
Officers at the scene observed a small blood pool at the mouth of the alley, near several boxes of clothes. The dumpster was about forty yards away, and the man inside was in a seated position with an apparent bullet hold in the middle of his forehead and a second head wound later determined to have been caused by blunt force trauma. He was identified as Gerald Schwartzman, 73. Here's a little bit about him, from a family statement released after his death:
Gerald 'Gerry' Schwartzman was born to Morris and Rose Schwartzman on March 18, 1938 in New York City. He attended City College of New York before his service in the US Army from 1960-1962 in Frankfurt, Germany as an administrative clerk. He was a Laboratory Technician with Kraft Foods Maxwell House Division where he spent his career improving the flavor of coffee. He retired from General Foods (who purchased Kraft/Maxwell House) in the mid 1990's. After the death of his brother David in 2001, and 9/11 he moved to Denver, Colorado to be closer to his family. Gerry enjoyed hiking and camping in both his native Adirondacks and the mountains of his new home in Colorado. He was an avid birdwatcher and animal lover. In quieter times he was a prolific reader with a love of poetry and a special interest in science, astronomy and physics. He was a great believer in Natural Medicine and Sports as a way to maintain good health. He spent his free time during his retirement playing basketball with neighborhood kids at both his local Recreation Center and nearby parks.
He also enjoyed swimming and golf.
He had a brilliant mind. Gerry was an insightful student of history and current events, participating as a Democratic Party Volunteer during elections. His love of nature and the outdoors made him an ardent environmentalist as well as an advocate for civil rights, equality and "Fairness for Everyone." He was a determined fighter for every person's right to be an equal participant in our society.
An hour or so before Schwartzman's body was discovered, his vehicle was discovered abandoned on the 600 block of South Holly Street, and a witness reported having seen an African-American male leaving it around 2 p.m. -- not long before the woman at the Cherry Creek Mall was kidnapped.
Another clue proved even equally fruitful. A detective learned that a lottery ticket had been found in Schwartzman's pocket, and she was able to trace it to a King Soopers at 1355 Krameria Street.
The King Soopers where Gerald Schwartzman bought the lottery ticket, as seen in a Google Maps image.
Soon thereafter, the detective pulled surveillance video from the King Soopers and found footage of Schwartzman in the company of an African-American male around 1 p.m. on the 13th. He could be seen driving Schwartzman's car alongside the older man.
At around this time, word reached investigators into the Schwartzman killing about Lornes's arrest on C-470 and the seizure of a silver handgun. Turns out that weapon was a 9 mm pistol and a spent shell casing found by the dumpster was the same size. Hence, the cops used the gun for a ballistics test and a forensics expert eventually concluded that "the bullet recovered from the decedent's head was fired from the same 9 mm pistol," the second affidavit states.
That was more than enough evidence to convince a jury of Lornes's culpability in the two crimes. Yesterday, he was found guilty of first-degree felony murder, second-degree murder, two counts of second-degree aggravated kidnapping, aggravated robbery and first-degree aggravated motor vehicle theft.
At his June 27 sentencing hearing, Lornes faces life in prison without parole. Look below to see a full-size version of his most recent booking photo, followed by affidavits related to the kidnapping and homicide.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
More from our Mile High Murder archive circa April 2011: "Gerald Schwartzman: Dumpster homicide victim allegedly slain by William Lornes (71)."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Westword's biggest stories.