Denver police ask for help solving state trooper’s 1973 killing

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DENVER  | The Denver Police Department’s cold case unit is asking for the public’s help solving the 1973 shooting death of a Colorado State Patrol trooper.

Investigators are seeking information about the death of Trooper Thomas Carpenter, who was shot Dec. 27, 1973, after he was apparently kidnapped by two men who had been with a stopped car along the side of U.S. 36 near Broadway, The Denver Post reports.

Thomas, 31, spotted the car and pulled up to it sometime before 10 a.m., but he did not make a radio report that he was pulling over. Investigators believe he either intended to help a stranded motorist or he saw something suspicious.

The car turned out to have been stolen, and witnesses later told investigators they saw the trooper driving his patrol car with two men in the back.

Carpenter was told to respond to a crash at 9:58 a.m., but he told the dispatcher he was at Interstate 70 and Havana Street at the time, several miles from the area he was supposed to be patrolling. Six minutes later, the dispatcher called again, and Carpenter tersely replied that he was on his way.

He was found dead in his car a short time later in the Montbello neighborhood with a gunshot wound to the back of his head. Witnesses said they saw two people running from the vehicle.

Carpenter, whose gun was found two years later in a ditch in New Mexico, was a married father of three who had been a state trooper for about five years when he was killed.

“Thomas Carpenter was a devoted husband, father and trooper,” said Col. Matthew Packard, chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “Someone must know something about the murder.”

 

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