Forty-seven years ago on this day, a Colorado State Patrol trooper was shot to death in his patrol car — and the killer was never caught.
Denver police on Sunday called for anyone with information about the killing of Trooper Thomas Carpenter to come forward as the department’s cold case unit still works to solve the case.
Carpenter, 31, was shot on Dec. 27, 1973, after he apparently was kidnapped by two men who’d been with a stopped car along the side of U.S. 36 near Broadway.
Thomas spotted the car and pulled up to it sometime before 10 a.m., but did not make a radio report that he was pulling over. He either intended to help a stranded motorist or he saw something suspicious.
The vehicle on the side of the road turned out to have been stolen. Witnesses later told investigators they saw Carpenter driving his patrol vehicle with two men in the back, one white, one Black.
At 9:58 a.m., Carpenter was dispatched to a crash at East 58th Avenue and Interstate 25, but told the dispatcher that he was at Interstate 70 and Havana Street at the time — several miles away from the area he was supposed to patrol.
Six minutes later, the dispatcher called again, and Carpenter tersely responded that he was on his way.
Not long after that, he was found shot to death in his car, parked behind an apartment complex at 13870 Albrook Drive in Montbello. He’d been shot in the head from behind. Witnesses said they’d seen two men running from the car.
No arrests were ever made in his killing. His gun was found two years later in a ditch in New Mexico.
Carpenter was a married father of three who had been a state trooper for about five years when he was killed. He was a religious man who did not drink alcohol, and was well-regarded by his colleagues.
“Thomas Carpenter was a devoted husband, father and trooper,” said Col. Matthew Packard, chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “Someone must know something about the murder of Trooper Carpenter. We are pleading that anyone with information, even if it seems insignificant, to please call the Denver police so that the family can receive closure in this case.”
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