Melvin Nelson: Alleged Charlene Clay shooter found dead in motel suicide

Update: The search for Melvin "Catfish" Nelson, wanted for shooting 72-year-old Charlene Clay three times in the face (somehow, she survived), ended at a motel at I-25 and 38th.

That's where Nelson's body was found. He apparently killed himself.

According to the Lakewood Police Department, various sources pinpointed Nelson's location. Cops then attempted to contact Nelson with the hope of getting him to surrender peacefully, but he didn't respond.

Cue the SWAT team, which busted into the motel room -- where the reason for Nelson's silence immediately became clear. He was dead of what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Charlene Clay proved much tougher to kill, thank goodness. Get the rest of the story in our earlier coverage below.

Update, 1:23 p.m. April 26: Earlier today, Lakewood cops announced their interest in speaking with Crystal Santisteven, 28. She was thought to possibly be traveling with Melvin Nelson, suspected of shooting Charlene Clay three times in the face before snatching her purse. Now, though, the LPD has announced that Santisteven has been found and is no longer considered a person of interest in the case.

That leaves cops back where they started in the search for Nelson. Learn more by reading our earlier coverage below.

Update, 9:49 a.m. April 26: At this writing, Lakewood Police Department officers haven't tracked down Melvin Nelson, nicknamed "Catfish," who allegedly shot 72-year-old Charlene Clay three times in the face before snatching her purse. But they've got a new lead: Nelson may be traveling with Crystal Santisteven, 28. Here's her description.

According to the LPD, Santisteven, who's also known as Crystal Larocco, is a five-foot-tall Caucasian with brown hair and brown eyes; she weighs around 125 pounds. While she hasn't been identified as a suspect thus far, she's a person of interest -- so anyone who eyeballs her should call the Lakewood department at 303-987-7111.

Look below to see our earlier coverage.

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Original item, 11:46 a.m. April 25: Don't underestimate Charlene Clay. The 72-year-old was allegedly shot three times in the face by homicidal/suicidal transient Melvin Nelson, with one of the bullets shattering part of her skull. But she not only survived, but managed to dial 911 when her 96-year-old mom couldn't see the phone well enough to dial.

Clay manages an apartment complex in Lakewood, and Nelson, who has no fixed address but is known to frequent the Colfax corridor, reportedly showed up at her home on Friday to ask about a rental unit. The next day, he returned, this time with a gun. According to Mark Clay, her son, she let Nelson in to her home, at which point he demanded money. When she told him "no," he allegedly opened fire before splitting with her purse.

The sound of the gunfire alerted Clay's mother -- but when she didn't succeed at calling paramedics, a still-conscious Clay did so herself. She remains hospitalized.

Meanwhile, Lakewood Police are on the lookout for Nelson, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder three decades ago and has what cops describe as a lengthy and violent criminal record most recently supplemented by a handgun-possession bust in late February for which he was released on bond. He's described as being a frequent drug user with homicidal and suicidal tendencies.

At last report, Nelson may be driving a stolen 2000 gold Ford Explorer, Colorado license-plate number 501-PYD. Possible destination: Craig, on the Western side of the state.

Look below to see Nelson's mug shot and a CBS4 report about the crime:

More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Keenu Tiyme murder trial: Long, strange trip to justice in death of tattoo artist Kauri Tiyme."

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