LA PLATA COUNTY - The law enforcement community on the Western Slope is mourning the loss of a deputy who was found dead in his burning home less than 10 days after the department had opened an administrative investigation into a "personal situation in his life."
In a press release, the La Plata County Sheriff's Office shed some light on why Deputy Jeremiah Lee may have been discovered, unresponsive, inside his home on a county road as it burned down.
Deputy Lee had provided the sheriff's office with some information about a "personal situation in his life" during the first week of October, the press release stated.
That information, its nature not specified in the release, "required" the department to conduct an administrative investigation.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigations (CBI) was tapped to look into the case independently, since the matter was a personnel issue, according to La Plata County.
Then, on Oct. 10, before the investigation by the CBI was completed, Deputy Lee submitted a letter of resignation to the sheriff's office, effective immediately.
The Sheriff, Sean Smith, requested a Sheriff's Office Crisis Intervention Team head to Lee's home to check on him two nights later, a Thursday.
A team member checked in on Lee at 9:15 p.m. and reported the conversation "went well," according to the department's news release.
Just a few hours later, around midnight on Friday Oct. 13, Lee's home was reported to be on fire.
Deputy Lee was found inside the home, unresponsive.
Lee served for two years with the La Plata County Sheriff's Office as a patrol deputy. Before coming to the county, he worked for 18 years with the Durango Police Department.
"Jeremiah Lee was a lifelong resident of La Plata County and will be deeply missed by all those that knew him. Jeremiah was a father, a son, a brother, a friend, and a law enforcement officer that served his community for 20 years," the press release from La Plata County said.
Sheriff Smith has requested CBI conduct Lee's death investigation as well. That investigation is ongoing.
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