Nathan Leon murder: Pizza delivery man's body found near recycling center (65)

"They didn't take his phone. They didn't take his car. Twenty bucks and maybe a pizza? That's worth his life?"

These very good questions are posed by Bernadette Alness, mother-in-law of Nathan Leon, a 27 year old whose second job was as a pizza delivery man. Hours after going missing from work, his murdered body was found in an open space area near a recycling center. The unfortunate details, plus photos from happier times, are on view below.

According to 7News, Leon, known by his friends and family as Nate, was working at a Domino's Pizza outlet near East 40th Avenue and Colorado Boulevard when he was called on a delivery. When he didn't come back by 2 p.m. on Sunday, his fellow employees called the police.

A few hours later, at about 5:45 p.m., members of the Golden Police Department received a call about a body found near the Rooney Recycling Center, reportedly from a man who'd been flying model planes. Officers responding to the 151 Rooney Road scene soon discovered a man identified by the Denver coroner's office as Leon. Although a cause of death hasn't been announced at this writing, he had an apparent gunshot wound.

Katie Barnhart-Leon, Nathan's wife, and the mother of their two young kids, kept those on her Facebook page abreast of the situation. On Sunday, she posted remotely, "Got a call from the Denver police to come to the station.... Pray that they have some news about my husband."

Unfortunately, that news was terrible. "They found a body," she wrote shortly thereafter. "They believe it is my husband....." This note was followed by a lament from the heart:
Tonight I lay here with a million thoughts running through my head.. I look at my two beautiful little girls as they are having their sweet innocent dreams with no cares in the world.. What are they gonna say in the morning when daddy is not there.. How do you look at your children and explain to them daddy may never come home?? How Do I go on the rest of my life without my best friend, my soulmate, the father of my children, my everything and try to stay strong... I love my husband with all my heart and soul...tonight I ask you lord please please please return my husband home safely if not for me than for our daughters sake.. Please lord..... :,(
Barnhart-Leon later posted, "Today is gonna be the hardest day of my life," before adding, "R.I.P MY LOVE... :,(" and this image: Katie repeats the last words on this graphic: "Keep this rose going for anyone in heaven that you loved and lost and keep in your heart."

If you have any information about who may have committed this terrible act, phone Crime Stoppers at 720-913-STOP (7867); a reward of up to $2,000 is being offered in the case. In the meantime, our condolences to Katie and Nate's friends, family and loved ones.

Look below to see a 7News report on the case, followed by an interactive graphic showing the area near where Leon's body was found. If you have problems seeing the image, click "View Larger Map."

View Larger Map

More from our Mile High Murder archive: "Warren Watson, person of interest in Claudia Miller homicide, arrested in Idaho (64)."

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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