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Joshua Churchwell: Late teen found in suitcase from prominent family, fled juvie program

Categories: News

joshua churchwell.JPG
Josh Churchwell.
Update: We're learning more about Joshua Oaks Churchwell, the seventeen-year-old whose body was found in a suitcase near Ruby Hill Park. (The case hasn't been ruled a homicide, since Churchwell showed no obvious signs of trauma and toxicology reports are pending.) He's been missing since January, and before winding up in a juvenile-correction program, he came of age in Burlington as part of a prominent local family.

Burlington, of course, is the small burg where the horrific murders of Charles and Marilyn Long, allegedly at the hands of their twelve-year-old son, recently took place.

According to 7News, Joshua's father is Burlington's city administrator, while his mother has provided foster care for more than 100 children over the years -- a display of largesse that won her recognition in "For All the Ways You Care," a contest sponsored by CVS pharmacies back in 2009.

More recently, though, he was in the custody of the Ridge View Youth Services Center, for reasons that can't be made public due to Churchwell's age. He wrestled for Ridge View, but during a meet at East High School in January, he ran away and hadn't been heard from since -- until some boys discovered that suitcase.

Even if Churchwell wasn't murdered, the disposition of his body was almost certainly a crime -- which is one of many reasons why the Denver Police Department continues to investigate the case. In the meantime, check out a video associated with the "For All the Ways You Care" contest, in which Churchwell is featured, followed by our previous coverage.


suitcase.jpeg
Update, 1:15 p.m. April 4: The Denver coroner's office has just identified the body found in a suitcase near Ruby Hill Park as Joshua Oaks Churchwell, seventeen. But there's still no word on a cause of death. In fact, the coroner notes that the autopsy may not be available for eight to twelve weeks.

Presumably, we'll learn more if Denver Police determine that the death wasn't a natural one. Until then, look below to see our earlier coverage on this strange and disturbing incident.

Original item, 7:16 a.m. April 4: The body discovered near Ruby Hill Park on Friday -- by a group of boys searching for scrap metal, who showed it off to their friends before alerting authorities -- didn't show immediate evidence of violence. Even though it was found stuffed into a suitcase.

Indeed, initial reports suggested that the victim was a child whose body was curled in the fetal position inside the partially buried suitcase (placed beneath a child's swimming pool). Now, however, the Denver Police Department suggests he was a teen at youngest and perhaps considerably older. To make matters that much more confusing, the DPD can't settle on either ethnicity or even eye color.

Here's the description released to date:

• A white or Hispanic male

• Between approximately 15 and 30 years of age

• Slight build

• Brown hair

• Dark, probably brown eyes

• Sparse moustache and goatee

• Natural teeth with no obvious fillings or crowns

• No scars or tattoos

• No obvious body piercings

In addition, the autopsy conducted by the Denver coroner's office on Saturday failed to pin down a cause of death -- all of which only compounds the difficulty of solving this case.

Anyone with information about the body is encouraged to contact the Denver Office of the Medical Examiner 303-436-7712 or the Denver Police Department 720-913-6776." Meanwhile, look below to see an interactive graphic of the area near where the victim was located; if you have problems seeing the image, click "View Larger Map."


View Larger Map

More from our Mile High Murder archive: "Peter Bellar to be tried again after hung jury for Douglass Singleton murder: Marijuana related?"


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28 comments
rockluisd
rockluisd

joshua my little brother i never had the chance to meet u again after all the time we've been apart but i still love u always will rest in peace cant nothin split up blood brothers family you are in my heart forever until im rite beside you love u 

Hector
Hector

I love u and miss u man I still can't believe what happened and I will never forget u man u where my best friend and a lik brother to me I miss u

Rockluisd
Rockluisd

Joshua is my biological brother he was adopted at an early age and taken away from his family so screw all of u people who think u know everything about him so my real name i was born with was luis manuel rivera jr. Now luis david rock so just lettin yall know i feel like i should've done something

Rangelrenteria
Rangelrenteria

Rest in peace bro. I will always remember and cherish all the time we spent together either getting into trouble or just being our dumb selves as kids growing up together. You were and still are like a brother to me. I'll pray for whoever did this to you will get what they deserve. I love you Josh, bro. Forever and always.

old neighbor
old neighbor

I knew Josh and he was a wonderful, bright, and caring young man.  It doesnt matter what he did or didnt do, no one deserves that.  Some of you people need to learn to respect him and his family.  They all loved him very much and he loved them. I hope they figure out what happend and who did this so the Chruchwell family can have closure.  Whoever did this will get theirs, if not on earth, on judgement day!!!May God Bless the Churchwell family 

Patrickphoneman
Patrickphoneman

boy what a stupid comment by what ever authorities said not ruled  an homicide  some body had to put the body their and it sure wasn't the dead boy seams like cover up

ruby_hill_resident
ruby_hill_resident

What ever happened to this investigation? There is zero news coverage. Five weeks later, and no autopsy results? Really?

<3
<3

poor josh man...and all yall are stupid for talkin crap cuz if this was your son brother cousin father nephew or whatever you guys would feel bad stop being cowards

Kay
Kay

no he did not shove himself in the suitcase i grew up with him and he is not stupid! he cud not of zipped it by himself, half barry himself and pull a pool over the top. someone did this to him. iloveyou Josh. maybe he did smoke pot or O.D but he didnt do this to himself someone was there and cud've helped him.

Mich Tom21
Mich Tom21

I beg your pardon.... the boys did not show off anything where you there??? Do you have children article author????

Oo
Oo

Yeah I would rule out homicide at this point. He clearly stuffed himself into a suitcase.

Robert
Robert

Smoke pot, end up in a suitcase?

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Thanks for the post, Rangelrenteria -- and our condolences for your loss.

Tracy
Tracy

What ever happend to the person that he ran with and does that person know anything? It is very sad what happend to the him. Hopefully soon they catch ther person or persons that did this to him!!!

one of the sisters-in-laws
one of the sisters-in-laws

 They have came back and it has been ruled as a homicide they finally came back. I am one of his sisters-in-laws.

Kay
Kay

i think they only released the information from the autopsy to the family.

solar_satellite
solar_satellite

It is horrific. I asked that question by way of wondering whether using cannabis as a seventeen-year-old in Burlington might have resulted in him being sent to a so-called "correctional" program, from which he fled to something worse here. Using cannabis should not put anyone in jail, much less into a suitcase (if there is any such connection to this sad story).

Mich Tom21
Mich Tom21

May he rest in peace and peace be with you. Don't mind no one who's a big O and a little 0.......

Monkeyridder
Monkeyridder

it's been a while but really ur fcuking studid! he wud never do tht to himself and its proven so shut up u dont know him so u can't judge wat he wud and wudnt do i did know him and he was an amazing boy.

Mich Tom21
Mich Tom21

In the article it said the boys ran and got all their friends to show off the body. The first adult they saw was the parks and rec personal and ran to them. This upset all the children in the neighborhood, have a heart reporter. So if,??? meant WTF then there you go.

one of the sisters-in-laws
one of the sisters-in-laws

Thank you for defending my Brother-in-law Monkey. I also found out that they are ruling it as a murder Autopsy come back finally.

ruby_hill_resident
ruby_hill_resident

I'm pretty sure that Oo was being sarcastic. It is absurd to think that this happened without any foul play. What do you mean by 'its proven?'

Cass
Cass

ur welcome. i love Josh i'll always defend him.

Monkeyridder
Monkeyridder

im sorry i didn't think about it i jst read it fast. im sick of ppl amusing he did it. its proven becuz theres no way he could possibly do tht and he wudnt

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