Crime

Thirteen Denver Homicides Reportedly Committed by Strangers

Booking photos of Jasmine Munoz and Noah Loepp-Hall, both of whom were arrested in connection with separate 2021 homicides.
Booking photos of Jasmine Munoz and Noah Loepp-Hall, both of whom were arrested in connection with separate 2021 homicides. Denver Police Department
This is the fourth in a series of stories about Denver homicides in 2021. Click to read "Most Dangerous Denver Police Districts in 2021," "Tragic Details of Denver's 28 Unsolved Homicides in 2021" and "Inside Denver's 2021 Gang-Related Homicides."

Many victims of the 96 homicides that took place in the Mile High City during 2021 — the highest number in forty years — knew their attackers. But according to the Denver Police Department, at least thirteen, and quite possibly more, were killed by strangers.

While "homicide" and "murder" are often treated as synonyms, "homicide" is officially defined as the killing of a human being by another person, whether intentionally or accidentally. As a result, homicide can encompass a variety of crimes in addition to murder, including manslaughter and more, and can be deemed legally justified if an individual is found to have acted in self-defense.

The DPD uses four major categories to describe the status of homicide investigations: "Cleared by arrest," when the department believes the perpetrators have been found; "Cleared" or "Cleared — Refused," because either the Denver District Attorney's Office has decided that prosecution isn't warranted or the guilty party is no longer alive, as in a murder-suicide scenario; and "Open," if no arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing.

At the end of 2021, the Denver Police Department listed 29 cases as still open, and in most instances, no suspect information was provided. Investigators categorized the same number of homicides, 29, as "Known," denoting that the victim had been acquainted with her or his attacker. In another twelve incidents, the relationship between the victim and the suspect was characterized as "Intimate," while one was labeled "Family" and eight were marked "Juvenile" (information is strictly limited in such incidents, owing to the age of the individuals involved). An additional six homicides are dubbed "Unknown," suggesting that detectives are unclear about relationship status, and several others are undesignated.

That leaves thirteen homicides in which the DPD believes someone was killed by a "Stranger." Four of them are considered "Cleared — refused," and the identity of the onetime suspect has been redacted. The other nine were cleared by arrest. One of the most shocking examples was the August murder of seminary student Shmuel Silverberg during an hours-long crime spree; nineteen-year-old Noah Loepp Hall was arrested in that case. Another handful of cases received substantial attention — among them the arrest of Jasmine Munoz in conjunction with the August slaying of Darrian Butler along East Colfax Avenue, and the December bust of Matthew Zhu following the death of nineteen-year-old Dustin Nguyen on 14th Street downtown. While several others received little publicity, they demonstrate that random street crime in Denver took a substantial toll in 2021.

Continue to see summaries of the thirteen 2021 homicides believed to have been committed by strangers. Included are age, demographic information, the time and date of the crime, the address and Denver Police district where it took place, and the type of weapon used, as well as location description and suspect information (if available).

1. Edgar Arambula-Barreras
Hispanic male
January 26, 2021
11:45 a.m.
400 block of South Broadway
District 3
Firearm
Cleared by arrest
Stranger: Julian Rivera, 34
Highway/Road/Alley/Street/Sidewalk

2. La'Zic Abraham, 16
Black male
January 26, 2021
8:21 p.m.
East Maxwell Place/East Pensacola Drive
District 5
Firearm
Cleared — refused
Stranger: Redacted
Highway/Road/Alley/Street/Sidewalk

3. Matthew Martinez, 31
Hispanic male
March 20, 2021
8:52 p.m.
2214 North Lafayette Street
District 6
Firearm
Cleared — refused
Stranger: Redacted
Residence/Home

4. David Lara, 59
Hispanic male
April 1, 2021
4:06 p.m.
300 South Federal Boulevard
District 4
Firearm
Cleared by arrest
Stranger: Tlaloc Chavez, 22
Highway/Road/Alley/Street/Sidewalk

5. DeAngelo Tafoya, 22
Hispanic male
April 1, 2021
4:06 p.m.
300 South Federal Boulevard
District 4
Firearm
Cleared by arrest
Stranger: Elias Chavez, 22
Highway/Road/Alley/Street/Sidewalk

6. Dontre Williams
Black male
July 18, 2021
2:46 a.m.
2063 Market Street
District 6
Handgun
Cleared — refused
Stranger: Redacted
Highway/Road/Alley/Street/Sidewalk

7. Robert Froemke, 49
White male
July 19, 2021
3:32 a.m.
1600 Blake Street
District 6
Handgun
Cleared by arrest
Stranger: Carlos Vigil, 37
Highway/Road/Alley/Street/Sidewalk

8. Darrian Butler, 27
Black male
August 11, 2021
4:09 a.m.
4535 East Colfax Avenue
District 2
Handgun
Cleared by arrest
Stranger: Jasmine Munoz, 22
Highway/Road/Alley/Street/Sidewalk

9. Shmuel Silverberg, 18
White male
August 17, 2021
11:36 P.M.
155 North Stuart Street
District 1
Firearm
Cleared by arrest
Stranger: Noah Loepp-Hall, 19
School

10. Christopher McDonough, 41
White male
October 7, 2021
9:56 p.m.
1554 North Logan Street
District 6
Blunt force
Cleared by arrest
Stranger: Zsakkar Kirkendoll, 26
Highway/Road/Alley/Street/Sidewalk

11. Robert Turner, 54
Black male
October 25, 2021
2:57 p.m.
3683 North Monaco Street
District 2
Firearm
Cleared by arrest
Stranger: Warren Simpson, 41
Highway/Road/Alley/Street/Sidewalk

12. DeVaughn Jackson, 32
Black male
November 10, 20212
9:05 p.m.
1109 North Willow Street
District 2
Cleared — refused
Stranger: Redacted
Highway/Road/Alley/Street/Sidewalk

13. Dustin Nguyen, 19
Asian male
December 17, 2021
12 a.m.
700 14th Street
District 6
Cleared by arrest
Stranger: Matthew Zhu, 29
Highway/Road/Alley/Street/Sidewalk
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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