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Candelario homicide investigation continues

WALSENBURG — While it may not be the topic of daily conversation among local residents as it once was, the January 2014 killing of Pam Candelario remains an active and open investigation for law enforcement. Many items of evidence have been collected, interviews conducted, and meetings held between various law enforcement and prosecution agencies. On the morning of Thursday, January 16 a neighbor of Ralph and Pam Candelario found Ralph injured on the sidewalk near the family home in Walsenburg. Emergency medical technicians and law enforcement were summoned to the residence at West Third and Hendren Streets. The injured man was taken to the emergency room and first responding officers cautiously entered the large brick home aware of the victim’s pleas to check on his wife. When they entered the home they found Pam Candelario dead on the cold tile floor of the kitchen. Within a week the El Paso County Medical Examiner’s Office would say she died of blunt force trauma and that Walsenburg police officially had a

homicide on their hands. WPD Lt. Kurt Liebchen is the lead investigator of the murder and technical support has been provided by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. While investigators meticulously processed the crime scene, Ralph was transported first to Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center and then to Parkview Medical Center in Pueblo by helicopter for treatment and evaluation of his head injuries. He would be released from medical care later that day, his wounds not as severe as initially thought, and would be formally interviewed by investigators for the first time at the CBI office in Pueblo. Then, on January 30 and February 6, the Huerfano World Journal published in two parts, an article where Ralph Candelario, in his own words, described what happened leading to his wife’s death. In the typewritten account, which he made available to both the Walsenburg police and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, he said he and his wife were the victims of a home invasion that began at about 2:30 am on January 15. Candelario said two men broke into the home, attacked him as he descended the stairs and had apparently battered Pam to death in the kitchen when she had come down stairs sometime before he had. Candelario said the two attackers stayed inside the home until some unknown time on Thursday morning before he was able to make his way outside where his neighbor heard his cries for help. As part of the investigation, a copy of Candelario’s original statement has been forwarded by Walsenburg police to the Behavioral Sciences Unit at the FBI. Lt. Liebchen has remained in contact with Candelario, checking on his well being and discussing the crime. Walsenburg police confirmed during one of these discussions within the past few weeks, Candelario told Liebchen that during the home invasion, he was sexually assaulted by the intruders. Police confirm this information had not been reported to them in any prior interviews. During the investigation Walsenburg Police Chief Tommie McLallen has researched other home invasion crimes reported in recent years in Colorado and surrounding states, looking for any similarities to the Candelario case. He has found none that involve stranger perpetuators who have stayed in a victim’s home for any extended period of time. In many reported cases, drug dealers are the target of home invasions by either rival drug dealing gangs, or opportunists looking to steal large amounts of cash, drugs, or weapons. None of those scenarios seem to be related to the current investigation. On Monday, April 14, Walsenburg and state investigators, along with prosecutors from two judicial districts, are expected to meet and review the evidence in the case. No suspect or suspects have been identified by investigators and anyone with any information about the crime is urged to call the Walsenburg Police Department at 719-738-1056.