Earlier this month, we shared Denver Police Department statistics showing that crime in the city was up in seven of nine categories during 2015, including homicides, which jumped an alarming 72.4 percent over 2014.
There were fifty homicides in Denver last year — and it didn't take long for the first one of 2016 to take place.
Moreover, the slaying struck very close to home for us.
On January 1, a homeless man later identified as Leon Teodoro III was stabbed to death mere steps from Westword's offices, at 969 Broadway.
Now, Calvin Johnson, who was also homeless, has been formally accused of first-degree murder in the incident. And a police report on view below details the clues that led to his arrest a couple of blocks from where Teodoro died, including some damning text messages during which he referred to himself as both a prophet and a killer.
At 9:15 a.m. on New Year's Day, according to Johnson's probable cause statement, Denver police officers responded to the alley behind 1025 Acoma.
There, they found Teodoro's body near his campsite, which included several pieces of cardboard and a sleeping bag.
Teodoro had several lacerations to his face and head, as well as cuts on his torso, back and hands.
A large pool of blood had collected nearby.
In addition, a smaller trail of blood could be leading to the south, away from the campsite.
The next day brought a development that pointed authorities in Johnson's direction — an e-mail featuring writings by an employee with Second Chance Center of Colorado, an agency that works with parolees from the Colorado Department of Corrections.
The note alluded to a text exchange between Johnson and another, unnamed Second Chance staffer that made reference to an attack on New Year's Eve.
In one of the texts, Johnson is said to have referred to himself as "Calvin/Elijah the Prophet/crazy killer."
When the person with whom he was corresponding asked if he had hurt or killed someone, Johnson is said to have replied that "you already know the answer to that" before decrying what he saw as an attempt to put words in his mouth.
The texts were more than enough to persuade investigators to track down Johnson, and they did so at his own campsite, in the alley behind the Sports Authority branch at 10th and Broadway.
During subsequent interviews, Johnson is said to have admitted to past beefs over allegedly stolen items with another homeless man whose description roughly matched Teodoro's.
Upon being shown a photo of Teodoro, however, Johnson claimed not to recognize him.
He also insisted that he didn't have a knife.
But after a search warrant was issued, such a weapon was discovered in his tent.
Surveillance footage of the attack as captured from nearby cameras wasn't clear enough to positively identify Johnson.
But DNA testing provided plenty of other information.
Tests found blood that matched Teodoro's on the confiscated knife, as well as shoes, a jacket and clothing worn by Johnson.
As a result, the Denver District Attorney's Office has charged Johnson with a single count of first-degree murder. He remains in custody at the Denver Detention Center. His next court date has not been scheduled.
Look below to see a larger version of Johnson's booking photo, followed by the aforementioned police report. In the meantime, our sincere condolences to the friends, family and loved ones of Leon Teodoro III.
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