Christopher Perea murder verdict -- and 911 botch that foreshadowed Kristine Kirk tragedy
In November 2012, we covered the murder of Loretta Barela, allegedly at the hands of her husband, Christopher Perea -- and we also reported about a delayed 911 response that prompted the same sort of criticism as in last month's killing of Kristine Kirk, who was on the phone with an operator when she was shot to death.
Christopher Perea. Video and more photos below.
Now, Perea has been found guilty -- but what happened to the 911 investigation? Turns out the dispatcher's resignation brought it to a premature halt. But a city spokeswoman says just-instituted 911 policies address some of what may have gone wrong in both slayings even before an announcement of findings in the Kirk matter -- one that's expected within days.
The probable cause statement against Perea, included below, notes that at 2 a.m. on November 18, 2012, Denver police dispatch received a 911 call "on a possible domestic violence at 1535 S. Carlan Court." However, the report adds that "officers did not make contact with anyone at the residence during their response."
Then, at 8:16 a.m., more than six hours later, another 911 call came in, this time from Perea. His statement to the operator is blotted out in the PC statement, but 7News reports that he said he thought he'd killed his wife during a fight that night -- and he had. The operator directed him to begin performing CPR while emergency crews were en route, but it was too late, given that her body was cold and her jaw was stiff.
Perea, who'd racked up a pile of drug and weapons charges over the previous decade, was promptly arrested for killing Barela; the couple had married the previous December, a few months after she reportedly bailed him out of jail. However, the debate over 911 and police response in the case grew hotter for understandable reasons.
9News cited a neighbor who's said to have made the initial 911 call upon seeing Barela at the front door of the residence. She was topless and screaming for help before Perea allegedly dragged her back inside. That would seem to be more than enough to pique officers' interest. But the neighbor maintained that cops didn't show up -- so she called again at 2:45 a.m. to ask if they were planning to stop by. According to the station, officers finally appeared at 3 a.m., but their investigation consisted of shining a flashlight and knocking on a door before they left.
Unsurprisingly, Barela's children -- she had five of them -- were left bereft at the loss of their mom, and the thought that police might have done something to prevent the slaying compounded their pain and frustration, as was clear during a protest at the State Capitol in the days after the murder.
A protest about the Barela killing, as seen in CW2 coverage.
Responding to the report about 911 issues, Denver Police Chief Robert White launched an investigation into the claims of slow response time.
"We are working with communications to determine why there was a delay in the dispatching," he told the station. "And once the officers were dispatched, certainly look at the actions they took to make sure they were appropriate. We have to look at, you know, what kind of call? Was the complaint anonymous? How did the call get dispatched? How was the call made to communications? All those things have to be examined."
Daelene Mix, communication director for the Manager of Safety's Office, confirms today that an investigation was indeed launched -- but it wasn't completed.
Continue for more about Christopher Perea, Kristine Kirk and two 911 investigations, including photos, video, a document and an interactive graphic.