DENVER— The convicted mass murderer who attacked an Aurora movie theater in 2012 was transferred out of Colorado to a prison elsewhere early this year, but his current location is a secret Colorado’s governor plans to keep.
“That I can’t tell you,” Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-Colorado) said in an interview with 9NEWS political reporter Brandon Rittiman for Balance of Power.
Families of the 12 people who died and the dozens injured argue they have a right to know the whereabouts of James Holmes, the man who caused the devastation.
Some say the mystery of his whereabouts keeps them up at night.
In Friday’s interview, Hickenlooper acknowledged that he knows where the killer is being held:
9NEWS: “Just to be clear, you can’t tell me because you don’t know… or because you’re not at liberty to share it?”Hickenlooper: “I’m not at liberty to share it.”
Colorado’s Department of Corrections doesn’t want to talk to 9NEWS about this topic.
“We decline your request for an interview and will not comment on Offender Holmes,” DOC spokeswoman Laurie Kilpatrick told us in June.
The prosecutors who convicted Holmes argue that DOC is breaking the law by withholding the killer’s whereabouts from victims, pointing to this part of Colorado’s Victim Rights Act:
“Upon written request of a victim, the department of corrections… shall notify the victim of the following information regarding any person who was… convicted of a crime against the victim:
(a) The institution in which such person is incarcerated or otherwise being held:
(e) Any…transfer…from… a correctional facility…” C.R.S. 24-4.1-303(14)(a)(e)
“I’m not a lawyer. That’s the first time someone’s asked me that interpretation,” Hickenlooper said when asked about the prosecution’s argument. “I can go find that out.”
Hickenlooper’s office has yet to respond to 9NEWS with its legal interpretation of this issue, but the Governor did explain some of the thinking behind it—that some level of anonymity makes it safer to imprison a notorious inmate.
“Experts in these fields feel that letting people know where these criminals are puts not only themselves at risk but the people around them at risk,” Hickenlooper said.
At best, that reasoning is subjective and not evenly applied among state and federal prison systems.
The whereabouts of other notorious criminals are made public, as was Holmes’ when he was held in Colorado prison.
Nathan Dunlap, who killed four people at an Aurora Chuck-E-Cheese restaurant, is held in Colorado State Penitentiary. Ted Kaczynski, the domestic terrorist known as the “Unabomber,” is held at a federal supermax facility in Florence, Colorado.
Some family members from the Aurora theater shooting have told 9NEWS they’re most concerned that the killer might be held in California where his family is.
Hickenlooper declined to shed any light on that question.
“I’m not able to say anything,” Hickenlooper said.