by Eric Mullens
WALSENBURG – Two local men were arrested last week in connection with the reported abduction and sexual assault of a 17-year old local high school student.
Daniel Willburn, 26 and Laqun Murphy, 30, both of Walsenburg are being held on $100,000 cash only bonds in the Huerfano County Jail following their arrest Oct. 12.
Both men have been charged with second degree kidnapping, class 2 felony; sexual assault, class two felony, second degree assault, a class three felony and false imprisonment, a class 2 misdemeanor.
Walsenburg Police Officer Rich Isnetto was dispatched the Peakview Middle School / John Mall High School area at 4:43 pm. The officer was advised the student had telephoned her mother and reported that she was on a hill and was able to see the football field. Isnetto drove to the football field area arriving at about 5:02 pm and met with George Purnell, JMHS Principal, who had found the girl at that location. In his affidavit for a warrantless arrest, Isnetto said when he contacted the victim she was still lying on her back, crying and saying she was in a lot of pain all over her body. In addition to Purnell, the victim’s cousin and father were also at the location near the football field when the officer arrived.
Paramedics were notified and the victim was transported to Parkview Hospital in Pueblo, CO. Isnetto was able to speak with the victim after she had been treated at the hospital.
She told the officer she was walking a friend to Peakview just after 6th hour (about 3:16 pm) and when she was in the west wing of the school her backpack was taken off of her and she was hit with it. She told the officer it was two males that had done that to her and she went on to describe what the men were wearing. The victim told the officer she remembers being put into a red car that was driven by a female and the two men also were in the vehicle.
She said she didn’t know how she got to the hill near the sports complex but said one of the men, described as a Spanish male, about 6 feet tall held her down while the second suspect, an African-American male attempted to ‘carve’ something on her face with an unknown object.
Isnetto said the victim was very shaken up during the initial interview but that she had seen the suspect’s faces and thought she knew who they were.
Photographs were taken at the hospital and a SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) investigation was done.
At 1 am, Oct. 12, the officer contacted the family and they reported they were back in Walsenburg and told him the victim had suffered a broken nose and that a Sharpie marker had been removed from her body.
Later that day Isnetto and WPD Sgt. Hibpshman followed up a lead that indicated the suspects had gone to the Carl’s Jr. restaurant on Main St. Police asked to review the restaurant’s surveillance tape. “While we were watching the tapes we noticed both Daniel John Willburn and Laqun Edward Murphy at the restaurant at approximately 2:15 pm on Oct. 11. The two suspects were in a group of about six to eight people, including the victim and her boyfriend,” Isnetto wrote in his affidavit.
At 5:05 pm the victim returned to the police department and told the officer she had seen the suspect African-American male while she was with her mother driving down Main St. During that interview the victim identified Willburn as the other suspect in her attack.
During that interview the victim revealed details of her ordeal which included the attack had taken place on the hill and that her hands had been tied together with a piece of black and white material and that something had also been placed around her neck. She told investigators that she was in and out of consciousness during the incident and didn’t remember exactly when the suspects wrote on her body or how her nose was broken.
She said she briefly remembered being in the vehicle and that a female was driving. She said the female wore her hair ‘pulled up’. She went on to describe the details of the vehicle.
Shortly after the interview was over Isnetto learned Murphy and Willburn had been taken into custody and he went to the county jail and observed the suspects checking on details from the description information he had received from the victim.
Police made no statement regarding a possible third suspect (the female driver), in a press release issued Monday, Oct. 17.
Police are seeking any information from the public regarding this crime. Anyone with information is asked to contact Huerfano County Dispatch at 719-738-1044.
Gary M. Vezzani was elected Walsenburg’s mayor in Tuesday’s special mayoral election/recall vote. Preliminary results announced Tuesday night show that both Nick Vigil in Ward