Court documents show an axe may have been used in the murder of Ana V. Rascon, whose body was found in a Gunnison County home last month.
Suspect Jorge Solis was arrested March 17, about 10 days after Rascon’s body was found. He has since been charged with first-degree murder, attempted arson and trespass.
A recently unsealed arrest affidavit says the caretaker of a home on Rim Road, Arrowhead Subdivision, located Rascon’s body inside and called police March 7.
When Gunnison County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Robert Summer responded, he found an “obviously deceased” woman, who was later identified as Rascon, 22.
She had sustained multiple head injuries. The lieutenant “observed a battle axe or ice-climbing type axe lying on the kitchen floor with what appeared to be blood on the handle and head of the weapon,” the affidavit states.
The Gunnison County coroner later ruled the death a homicide but could not be reached Friday for confirmation of the cause of death, including whether Rascon succumbed to any cutting injuries or blunt-force injuries.
Per the affidavit, Summer could tell a fire had been set under a coffee table near Rascon; both the table and carpet were badly burnt. Summer further found a bottle of charcoal-lighting fluid, several personal items including keys, money, sunglasses and documents.
Later, during a warrant search of the home, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation matched a set of keys to the tag of a vehicle that had been found stuck and abandoned on Alpine Road, about 2 miles from the subdivision. Agents learned that two people had walked to the Rim Road residence from the direction of the stuck car, and that a man and woman had also been seen at the vehicle early March 6. The same man was seen walking away from the area of the vehicle by himself that afternoon, the affidavit says.
On March 9, Summer received word of a witness who on the morning of March 6 had spotted a man and woman at the vehicle. The witness had stopped to check on the pair and left when they told her they did not need help. Late that afternoon, the same witness and a companion spotted the man, walking alone. They gave him a ride to US 50 and Alpine Road; he reportedly told them he was going “back to Grand Junction.”
The witnesses provided a clothing and physical description and one of them picked Solis from a photo lineup later that day. The other witness was not able to make an identification from the lineup.
Solis was ultimately arrested after a public appeal for information. Officials with the GCSO could not be reached for comment Friday about the circumstances of the arrest, and whether Solis made any statements at the time.
According to the affidavit, agents found a receipt in the Rim Road home, dated March 5, and tracked it to the Walmart in Rifl. They obtained still images from video surveillance that showed Rascon, wearing the same clothing in which she had died. A man appeared with her on the footage.
Friends of either Rascon or Solis — it is not clear because of redaction in the affidavit — identified that man as Solis. They gave formal interviews further detailing how they knew Solis.
One of them again contacted CBI with information about a Facebook profile for Solis, which bore the profile name “Santoz Jay.”
That profile led investigators to another man, who, when contacted in Delta, identified pictures of Rascon. He said Rascon was supposed to swing by his home that weekend to pickup a makeup case she had left there.
A text message cited in the affidavit said she “was coming from ‘Rifle’ and she would have her ‘homie’ with her.”
Rascon arrived at about 2:30 a.m. March 6. The man with her did not give his name and the witnessed could provide only a vague description of him, according to the affidavit.
Per the document, the Delta witness said people in the home started using methamphetamine and Rascon and the man with her became annoyed with each other over how to use the “torch” to heat the drug.
The argument became so heated that the witness had to separate the pair. He reported they then left his home and he did not know where they were headed.
Based on witness information and IDs made from photographs, including of a tattoo that matched one Solis had, an arrest warrant was obtained March 10.
Since his arrest, Solis’ defense team has filed a fleet of motions, many of which were resolved by agreement or have been rendered moot by other actions.
District Judge J. Steven Patrick denied the defense motion to allow confidential experts to be present for evidence-testing. Prosecutors are required to preserve evidence to the extent possible, so the defense can conduct its own testing; this is governed under the Colorado Rules of Criminal Procedure.
Patrick said Solis’ defense must be given at least two weeks’ notice if any testing that will be done would consume the available evidence. Otherwise, he found, the court lacks authority to regulate what investigative work and testing is conducted by the prosecution.
The parties are to comply with rules of professional conduct that cover pre-trial publicity, Patrick also ordered, in response to a motion to limit such publicity.
Solis’ defense also filed a motion for a protective order from media and informants.
Patrick said that although the District Attorney’s Office is not to enlist an informant, he “will not preclude testimony from individuals not solicited by law enforcement to whom incriminating statements, if any of which are voluntarily made by (the) defendant.”
Patrick explicitly said law enforcement is to refrain from “soliciting, encouraging or otherwise planning for such actions.
However, he said an order to prevent Solis from being held where he would have contact with known or potential informants would be too broad and would “effectively require solitary confinement.”
Solis’ next hearing has been set for April 29.
Katharhynn Heidelberg is the Montrose Daily Press assistant editor and senior writer. Follow her on Twitter, @kathMDP.