PARK COUNTY, Colo. — A day after investigators revealed they were looking for three men involved in the Dec. 2017 murder of Maggie Long, community members in Bailey attended a public meeting to raise questions and concerns about the investigation.
Newly elected Park County Sheriff Tom McGraw hosted the town hall meeting Tuesday night at the Fitzsimmons Middle School gymnasium.
McGraw reviewed significant new details on the Maggie Long case that he first shared Monday from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation hbilleadquarters in Lakewood.
“It saddens me greatly to tell you that Maggie was purposefully set on fire and burned alive,” McGraw told reporters. “We believe this was a targeted crime and that there were at least three suspects still at large.”
Maggie Long, a senior at Platte Canyon High School, never returned to school for a concert Dec. 1, 2017. She was managing the VIP section for the concert and told friends she was going home to grab some more cookies and water for the audience.
Investigators say she was killed inside her family’s home off County Road 43 in Bailey. The house was set on fire and someone stole guns, a large green safe and jade figurines. McGraw said investigators believe the Long home was targeted.
McGraw said three suspects spent “a significant amount of time in the house with Maggie” the day she was killed. The sheriff shared a new sketch of one potential suspect. Last May, investigators released a sketch of a different man. Sheriff McGraw said a sketch of a third suspect was in the works.
During the investigation, McGraw said the task force learned of additional vehicles that may be connected to the crime. On Monday, McGraw shared a photo of two vans and a pickup truck spotted near the Long family home.
On Tuesday, the sheriff told community members sharing the news about how Maggie died was something he didn’t enjoy, but he hoped it would generate interest and potential leads in the case.
“It still hurts, but I understand why they had to do this,” said Michelle Hoglan.
Hoglan, whose daughter was friends with Maggie Long, attended the meeting Tuesday night and appreciated the opportunity to ask questions of the new sheriff. She described the frustrating experience waiting for updates on the case from the previous administration.
Sheriff Fred Wegener held one press conference in the Maggie Long case more than two months after she was murdered. Wegener declined to speak to 9NEWS about the case after the initial press briefing.
Wegener spent the last several months of his term mostly on vacation in Florida, handling the day-to-day duties of the job through email while Maggie Long’s murder remained unsolved.
“We weren’t asking for specifics on the case,” Hoglan said. “We just wanted to know that something was happening and that they were moving forward and the complete silence was incredibly frustrating and I think it hurt a lot of people and made a lot of people very angry.”
Hoglan said the Monday press briefing and Tuesday night public meeting had done a lot to repair the community’s view of the sheriff’s office. Park county resident Craig Christenson agreed.
“This is an abundance of information that really helps,” Christenson said. “So, just the idea that we know it’s three guys – that was never mentioned before. And in the beginning, nothing was mentioned, so this is nice and open and it’s a great feeling.”
McGraw pointed Park County residents to a new website where people can read up on the case and submit anonymous tips. The site features interactive maps and a layout of the Long family home.
Crime scene photos posted on the site show damage to the house and burn marks on the floor and walls of a bedroom, kitchen and laundry room.
Sheriff McGraw, whose been on the job about three weeks, assured reporters and the community Tuesday he would hold a press briefing when there was an update he could share.
McGraw said eight new billboards will be going up soon in the Denver and Colorado Springs areas featuring Maggie Long’s picture and a reminder about a $50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and prosecution.
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