Denver's police chief orders investigation into response to woman's attack, death

DENVER - Denver's police chief has ordered an investigation into how officers responded to a situation that ended in a woman's death.

Denver police spokesman Sonny Jackson said officers received a report of a possible deceased woman Sunday morning. He said officers responded to the 1500 block of South Carlan Court at 8:16 a.m.

Jackson didn't say when the original report was received.

A neighbor, who asked not to be identified, told 7NEWS she called police at 2 a.m. and again at 2:40 a.m. after the woman ran to her door for help.The neighbor said the woman's husband had dragged her back across the street to their home.

The neighbor said she didn't see an officer respond to the home until 3:10 a.m. The neighbor said she only saw the officer shine a flashlight into the victim's home and leave.

Officers found the woman inside the home and she was pronounced dead at the scene at 8:29 a.m.

A police incident log stated that police believe the woman was killed between 3 a.m. and 8 a.m. Sunday.

The victim was identified Monday afternoon by the Denver Office of the Medical Examiner as Loretta Barela, 44. The medical examiner confirmed that she was the victim of a homicide, but the cause of death wasn't released pending the completion of an autopsy.

Police arrested Christopher Alex Perea, 41, for investigation of first-degree murder.   

Police Chief Robert White explained that dispatchers are responsible for ranking the priority of incoming reports. He said reports are classified on a one-through-four scale, with level one as the highest priority.

"If it is determined to be high-priority, then it is given the appropriate action -- it's dispatched to the officers immediately," he said.

The chief said he didn't know where on the scale this case was originally ranked.

"Currently what we're doing is we're looking at: When was the run dispatched? The nature of the call that the dispatchers received? When was the run dispatched? How did the officers receive the run, in relation to what instructions they were given? And once they got there, what action did they take?" said Chief White.

Family members of Barela's said their pain is made even worse by the fact they think her life could have been saved. 

"I'm pissed off," said sister Phyllis Rosa. "When she needed help the police weren't there for her and she didn't ask for help very often. 

Perea has a nine-page Colorado criminal history report, including arrests for drug trafficking, being a convicted felon in possession of weapons,  domestic violence, vehicle theft, escape, assault and resisting police. 

Print this article Back to Top