David Reathman gets 48 years for killing his wife in bizarre murder-failed suicide

Back in March, we told you about the arrest of David Reathman, a 65-year-old Golden resident, in the killing of his wife Barbara, seventy.

Now, Reathman has been sentenced in the case, which was revealed to have turned on a terminal diagnosis and a gambling problem that motivated murder and an alleged suicide attempt that took three days and failed miserably.

Photos, video and details below.

As we noted in our original coverage, the case began with an irony: On March 25, members of the Golden Police Department were first called to the Reathman residence, located in a mobile home park, because loved ones feared that David might have died.

Instead, the body officers discovered was Barbara's. At first, reports about the condition of her remains were kept quiet, but some personnel at the site could be seen donning hazmat suits.

In its initial release about the incident, the GPD deemed the circumstances "suspicious," and that's putting it mildly. An arrest affidavit referenced by CBS4 revealed that she was discovered with her wrists and ankles bound by duct tape. She was clad in her underwear, and police noticed signs of strangulation.

As for David, who had recently retired from a civilian position at the Jefferson County Jail, where he oversaw inmates taking part in a work program, his whereabouts were unknown. The cops didn't immediately brand him as a suspect, but they did note that he was wanted for questioning in a media alert released after Barbara's body was recovered.

Then, at 6 p.m. on the third day after Barbara's death, David walked into Golden police headquarters and turned himself in. After confessing to the crime, he found himself ensconced in the same Jeffco jail where he used to work.

David told investigators that he committed his desperate act after learning the previous December that he had Stage 5 lung cancer. He also admitted to a gambling addiction, leading to financial difficulties. In the end, 7News reports that he strangled Barbara, then headed to the mountains with the idea of freezing to death. But when he didn't die after three days, he decided to surrender instead.

Reathman has now been sentenced to 48 years in prison for the crime -- unquestionably a death sentence given his diagnosis.

Here's a look at David Reathman's mug shot, followed by a CBS4 report.

More from our Mile High Murder archive: "Michael Chavez ID'd as man shot to death in South Bryant Street murder (66)."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts