| News |

Lofgren family carbon monoxide deaths: Judge lets criminal charges stand (PHOTOS)

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

Update: The criminal case springing from the Thanksgiving weekend 2008 carbon-monoxide-poisoning deaths of the Lofgren family -- parents Parker and Caroline, plus kids Owen, ten, and Sophie, eight -- will continue thanks to a ruling by a district judge yesterday.

But the hearing, at which the two defendants in the case pleaded not guilty, hinted at chinks in the prosecution's armor.

As reported by the Glenwood Springs Post Independent, Judge James Boyd acknowledged that "some inaccurate information" had been shared with the grand jury that indicted subcontractor Marlin Brown and onetime building inspector Erik Peltonen last July, as well as what he termed "mistakes" by the prosecutor during the deliberation process. And while Boyd ultimately determined that these flaws weren't serious enough to dismiss the charges, you can bet the team working for Brown and Peltonen will do everything they can to exploit them.

The trial is scheduled to get underway on November 28 -- two years to the day when the Lofgrens died. Look down to see our earlier coverage, including a photo gallery of the family during happier times.

Original item, 8:01 a.m. June 13: On Thanksgiving weekend 2008, the picture-perfect Lofgren family -- parents Parker and Caroline, plus kids Owen, ten, and Sophie, eight -- traveled to Aspen and bunked at a rental home, where they died of carbon monoxide poisoning. Last July, a grand jury indicted a subcontractor and an ex-building inspector on negligent homicide related to their deaths, and today, a judge is expected to decide if those charges will stick.

Marlin Brown and Erik Peltonen, the two men indicted, face jeopardy outside the criminal-justice system, too. Last August, a civil suit was filed against the pair, among other. It's on view below, and can also be accessed by clicking here.

As we reported at the time, the document states that during the family's first evening in the rental property, at a resort called The Lodge, snow began falling, and as it accumulated on the roof, a sensor triggered a gas-fired boiler called the "Munchkin" to melt it. But something went terribly wrong. At five p.m. on November 28, 2008, family friends discovered the Lofgrens' bodies -- and they were in fearful condition, according to the lawsuit:

The decedents Parker and Caroline Lofgren were found in their nightclothes on the bed. Caroline had hemorrhaged from her mouth or nose. Owen was found on the floor by his father beside a nightstand. Sophie was found on the floor by her mother with her face bloodied. Blood was also found on the bedding of one of the bunk beds in the children's guest suite.

It was later confirmed that carbon monoxide poisoning killed the Lofgrens, with evidence pointing to the Munchkin boiler. The suit alleges that the causes of the poisoning included, but were not limited to, a disconnected exhaust vent, a disconnected fresh air intake vent, a defectively designed boiler, an improperly installed HVAC system and the absence of a carbon monoxide detector. The document argues that several of these factors "were open and obvious violations of Pitkin County Code."

A release about the suit pointed out that the Lofgrens' surviving loved ones were instrumental in getting carbon-monoxide-safety laws passed in four states, including Colorado.

Page through below to see photos of the Lofgrens, followed by the aforementioned civil suit.

Estates of Parker Lofgren and Family Versus Marlin Brown, Et Al

More from our News archive: "Dad hopes son's tragic story will prevent other drunk-driving deaths."

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.