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Power tool cord used to strangle Denver man, affidavit says

William Hoebel, 77, was found dead in his home near Cheesman Park last month.

DENVER — The cord from a power tool was used to strangle a 77-year-old man who was found dead last month in the basement of his home near Cheesman Park, according to the an arrest affidavit for the suspect from the Denver Police Department (DPD).

Brian Murray, 40, faces a first-degree murder charge in connection with the death Nov. 18 death of  William "Stu" Hoebel.

DPD officers responded to a home in the 1100-block of North Vine Street around 5:45 p.m. on that night and found Hoebel unresponsive from a suspected gunshot wound to the head. However, he also had a power tool lying on top of him, the affidavit says, the cord was wrapped tightly around his neck.  During an autopsy, blunt force head injuries were found, but he had not been shot, the affidavit says.

>The video above aired Nov. 23 when the suspect was arrested.

The Denver Medical Examiner's Office said Hoebel died from asphyxiation and blunt force injuries.

RELATED: 77-year-old man's death investigated as a homicide

A witness told police she had left the home around 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 18 and Hoebel was there and in "good spirits."  She reported that she returned home around 3:30 p.m. and found the garage open and noticed Hoebel's silver Nissan Rogue missing, the affidavit says. She said it was "very unusual" for the garage to be open and called and texted Hoebel to see if he had left it open and got no response. 

She was preparing to leave for a meeting at 5:30 p.m. and called another person who also reported that they had been unable to reach Hoebel that afternoon, the affidavit says. At that time, the woman went to the basement and found Hoebel in an unfinished portion of the basement where he kept his tools, according to the affidavit. 

Hoebel's car, cellphone and wallet were all missing from the home, the affidavit says.

Security video from a neighbor's Nest camera showed the victim's car leaving the home at 2:14 p.m., according to the affidavit. The vehicle was seen on camera headed north on North Vine Street and later seen in video from a HALO camera driving along East Colfax Avenue.

Video from an RTD bus showed the vehicle was traveling the behind the bus before turning into a business at 2344 E. Colfax Ave., the affidavit says. DPD investigators reviewed video from that business.

Detectives also learned that Hoebel's debit card was used at the Walgreens located at 801 16th St. after he was killed, the affidavit says. Video from the store shows the suspect withdrawing money from an ATM and purchasing gift cards and cigarettes.

RELATED: Man accused in homicide day after release from custody, court records show

Investigators put out a bulletin to other law enforcement using images taken from one of the businesses and received a call from a member of the Safe Streets Task Force who said they recognized the person as Murray who had active felony warrants.

Murray was previously arrested on Nov. 16 by the Louisville Police Department (LPD) and was released from custody the following day on a personal recognizance bond.

That arrest was related to an incident on Nov. 14. Around 5:30 p.m. that night, Murray contacted Boulder County Communications (BCC) and would not state a reason for his call, LPD said. 

When asked the reason for the call he said "you'll find out," LPD said. Murray again called BCC at 6:09 p.m. and gave an alias name while stating that he had served many years in prison and that he wanted cops to shoot him, LPD said.

He reported that he had a gun and would be dead that night either by officer's hands or his own, according to LPD.

Murray was eventually located at the Quality Inn Hotel in Louisville and taken into custody without incident on Nov. 16. He was booked into the Boulder County Jail on the following charges:

  • Attempting to influence a public servant
  • Obstructing government operations

He was released the next day, and was supposed to appear in court on Nov. 19 but did not show up, court records show. 

The Boulder District Attorney's Office did not want Murray released, according to information obtained by 9NEWS. The DA's office said they requested for a higher bond to be set than was granted.

Credit: Louisville PD
Brian Murray

“Brian Murray is an absolute danger to our community and a serious flight risk. Over the past week, the Louisville Police Department has been working incredibly hard to deal with the risks to public safety presented by this man – with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the District Attorney’s Office, " said District Attorney Michael Dougherty.

"As we have argued from the start, this defendant should not be released into the community."

On Nov. 22, LPD said in a news release they were again looking for Murray who they said should be "considered armed and dangerous." LPD noted that Murray may be in possession of several weapons, and threatened the lives of "specific individuals" and law enforcement officers. 

They said he was wanted on two outstanding warrants of failure to appear and possession of a weapon by a previous offender. 

Murray was arrested by the FBI on Nov. 23 without incident on federal and local charges in Los Angeles. He remains in California where waiting extradition to Colorado.

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