Did Denver police delay give Christopher Perea time to kill Loretta Barela? (52)

Update:The Denver coroner's office has identified the victim of a weekend homicide at South Carlan Court as Loretta Barela, 44. But beyond the tragedy of her death and the arrest of her husband, Christopher Perea, for the crime, additional questions have arisen. Among them: Did the Denver Police take hours to respond to a 911 call, thereby arriving too late to save the woman's life? The original release from the Denver Police Department notes that officers arrived at an address on the 1500 block of South Carlan at 8:16 a.m. Sunday, November 18. There, they found a dead woman now ID'd as Barela and arrested Perea, who'd racked up a pile of drug and weapons charges over the previous decade. They married in December, a few months after she reportedly bailed him out of jail.

Afterward, however, folks in the area stepped forward to suggest that the cops had been extremely tardy in their response time. 9News cites a neighbor who's said to have first called 911 at 2 a.m. upon seeing Barela (referred to as Loretta Rosa in the station's coverage) at the front door of the residence. She was topless and screaming for help before Perea allegedly dragged her back inside.

That would seem to be more than enough to pique officers' interest. But the neighbor maintains that cops didn't show up -- so she called again at 2:45 a.m. to ask if they were planning to stop by.

According to the station, officers finally turned up at 3 a.m., but their investigation consisted of shining a flashlight and knocking on a door before they left.

So who called 911 at 8:16 a.m.? Perea, who is said to have told operators that Barela's body was "cold" and her jaw was "stiff." The coroner's office has yet to settle on a cause of death; the completion of the autopsy is pending.

Unsurprisingly, Barela's children -- she had five of them -- are bereft at the loss of their mom, and the thought that police might have done something to prevent the slaying no doubt makes the situation even worse.

Responding to the report, Denver Police Chief Robert White has launched an investigation into the claims of slow response time.

"We are working with communications to determine why there was a delay in the dispatching," he told the station. "And once the officers were dispatched, certainly look at the actions they took to make sure they were appropriate. We have to look at, you know, what kind of call? Was the complaint anonymous? How did the call get dispatched? How was the call made to communications? All those things have to be examined."

Look below to see the 9News report, followed by our previous coverage.

Continue to see our previous coverage. Original item, 2:59 p.m. November 19: Only hours after what's being characterized as an ambush stabbing in Wheat Ridge for which Nate Fischer was arrested, police discovered a dead woman in a Denver neighborhood.

Christopher Perea, the man busted in relation to the crime, is definitely familiar with booking procedures.

At 8:16 a.m. on Sunday, November 18, according to the Denver Police Department, officers responded to an address on the 1500 block of South Carlan Court on what's described as a "report of a possible deceased female."

Unfortunately, the report was accurate. A thus-far-unidentified woman was found inside the residence; she was pronounced dead at the scene. In addition, cops arrested Perea, 41, on suspicion of first-degree murder.

The allegation appears to be the most serious one Perea has ever faced, but far from the first. The Denver Post documents a slew of previous police interactions, from a 2001 controlled-substance charge and a 2004 escape conviction to more narcotics-related offenses in 2007, 2009 and this past August, when he was accused of unlawful drug distribution and weapon possession by a previous offender.

At this point, the woman's name and cause of death awaits release by the Denver coroner's office.

Look below to see a larger version of Perea's mug shot and an interactive graphic of the area near the scene; if you have problems seeing the image, click "View Larger Map."

View Larger Map

More from our Mile High Murder archive: "Ryan Haldeman stabbed to death in Capitol Hill, friends and family mourn (49)."

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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