Traci Cunningham's trip to car for beef jerky allegedly ends with her mom's murder

Categories: Colorado Crimes

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Big photos, video below.
This week, Aurora's Traci Cunningham was formally charged with murder in the death of her adoptive mother, Penelope, in Eagle County. But while there seems little doubt that she pulled the trigger, the circumstances of the case practically guarantee an unusual defense.

According to her arrest affidavit, Traci says she can't remember firing the fatal shot -- but she does recall stumbling upon a gun while searching for some beef jerky.

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Penelope Cunningham.
The Vail Daily, which has done a lot of the best coverage on this case, notes that Penelope Cunningham was a former nun turned elementary school social studies teacher at Maxwell Elementary School.

An excerpt from her Maxwell bio shared by CBS4 reads, "I am here to give my students the best fourth grade education possible. All they have to do is pay attention, participate and do their best. No lazy brains allowed!"

The 28-year-old Traci was adopted by Penelope fourteen years ago, when she was in her middle teens.

Penelope was sixty when she died. Prior to that, she and Traci lived together in Aurora.

As for the crime itself, an arrest affidavit accessed by the Daily maintains that the pair were en route to Grand Junction over the Thanksgiving break for a hiking-and-photo-taking trip. But on November 28, as they headed up Gypsum Creek Road, near the town of Gypsum in Eagle County, an argument took place that was apparently serious enough for Penelope to get out of their car and start walking.

Here's a look at the area, in a screen capture from 7News.

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The affidavit's narrative maintains that Traci got out of the vehicle, too, then headed back to it in search of some beef jerky. But instead of finding a snack, she reportedly "encountered" a Springfield XDM 9-millimeter handgun.

The gun had been packed by Penelope, Traci told investigators.

At that point, Traci allegedly picked up the gun, but as she began walking up the road, she's quoted as saying that "everything goes black" -- and when the darkness lifted, she saw Penelope on the ground, mortally wounded.

She'd been shot five times in various parts of her body, including her back.

Continue for more about the death of Penelope Cunningham, including additional photos and a video.



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16 comments
llahnert
llahnert

And then she drove to Aurora, instead of going to Police.  And when she got home, she went to a bagel shop.  She knew what she was doing the whole time.  Lady is crazy. 

Mae Helms
Mae Helms

Going to look for a snack in your car while in the middle of an argument...sounds right.

Damon Wood
Damon Wood

snap into a slim jim. she was messing with those off brands

Johnson Lori
Johnson Lori

what century was your history book published? You are an imbecile.

Amanda Goffena
Amanda Goffena

Yeah she gets in a fight that bad with her mother and starts walking after her then all of a sudden "hm I'm starting to get hungry better head back to the car to munch on some beef jerky in the middle of this debilitating argument I'm having with my mother"

Virginia Lee
Virginia Lee

But she didn't black out on the drive all the way back to aurora with no attempt to call for help...uh oh...

Amanda Goffena
Amanda Goffena

Blacked out my ass. She probably packed the gun with the intention to kill her mother out there in the wilderness

Merréll Barry O'Brian
Merréll Barry O'Brian

See, that's the problem with unwanted babies. Usually, it's just like taking in a stray dog from the pound. You get some broken, twisted mental who you bring into your house and, they kill you. Case in point. In the South, it's notoriously incest babies.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

 "but she does recall stumbling upon a gun while searching for some beef jerky."


Happens all the time.


fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay   This gal has to be related to you donk.

Typical liberal response - "It's not my fault"!

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@fishingblues ... now you're just flailing like a wounded chicken.


So sad.

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