Shortly after the February murders of Amara Wells and Robert Rafferty Jr. in Keene Ranch, the Douglas County coroner's office, led by Lora Thomas, revealed that the victims died of sharp force injury; they were stabbed to death. But the DougCo sheriff's office wanted to hold back that info -- and now we're learning Thomas offered to do so only if she and her staff could have access to the sheriff's vending machines and gym. Really. Christopher Wells, Amara's ex-husband, has been charged in the killings even though he was in custody at the time the bodies were discovered -- for violating a restraining order put in place at Amara's request. Also accused are three alleged cohorts, Josiah Sher, Micah Woody and Matthew Plake, linked to Christopher via Rocky Mountain Auto Brokers, a Colorado Springs auto dealership where all of them were employed at one time or another. Christopher had been fired from his gig as finance manager some time earlier, while Plake had received the heave-ho from a sales job. But Sher and Woody were both still on the payroll, and when they showed up for work a couple of days after the slayings, the brokerage's general manager said they looked "rough." Indeed, Sher's face was reportedly covered with scratches. By the way, Sher is an Army veteran who had multiple run-ins with the law, while Woody declared on his Facebook page that "being a pacifist between (sic) wars is like being a vegitarian (sic) between meals."
Prior to these arrests, however, the sheriff's office, overseen by Dave Weaver, wanted to keep details about the homicides quiet in the immediate aftermath of the bodies' discovery, at 3 a.m. on February 23. This effort was circumvented by a coroner's office release that named the victims and how they died. In response, the sheriff's office took the unusual approach of contacting media outlets like this one to request that the cause of death not be reported. But unsurprisingly, the details got out shortly thereafter.
Clearly, there was a disconnect between Thomas and Weaver on this issue -- but only now do we know how large it really was. As 7News reports, Weaver says his office begged Thomas to delete the cause of death revelations, to which she allegedly responded, "If you allow me access to the sheriff's office, to your gym and candy-bar machine, I won't release this information."
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Even more startling than this claim is Thomas's admission that it's true. "The day I was sworn in, with no notice or explanation, suddenly we weren't able to go there," Thomas said in reference to the sheriff's office. She calls her attempt to link the release of information in a double homicide to access to chocolate "a terrible mistake on my part."
Thomas and Weaver are hardly pals. She says Weaver endorsed her opponent in the coroner race -- he claims he didn't endorse anyone. He counters by accusing members of her office of conducting searches in the homes of victims outside their authority. His staffers previously threatened to arrest coroner personnel for such actions, but they're currently only documenting them.
Oh yeah: Weaver says he didn't allow coroner's office staffers into his inner sanctum for security reasons. And the more bad blood that's stirred up between him and Thomas, the stronger that argument becomes.