Family remembers Nate Leon as loving, kind, funny and smart; not by his part-time job

DENVER - From anger to sadness, the family of Nathan Leon experiences a roller coaster of emotions each day. The father of three was gunned down on March 17, while working his part-time job. 

Many know Leon as a pizza delivery driver, but his wife says there was much more to the man than the job he did one day a week to earn extra money for his family.

"He had a name. He was a good person. He was loved and he counted," said Katie Leon.

In her first sit down interview, Katie told CALL7 Investigator Theresa Marchetta, that her husband meant the world to his family.

"I want in big letters, Nathan Collin Leon, the loving husband and father; the 27-year-old man that got murdered for a t-shirt," said Katie.

She was referring to the pizza delivery gear Leon was wearing. An item the presumed murderer is believed to have used in the commission of another killing.

Katie described Nate as a man who was funny, kind and soft spoken.

"He was the smartest man I'd ever met," she said.

-- WATCH THE INTERVIEW TONIGHT AT 10 ON 7NEWS --

Katie begged Nathan to quit his job at Dominos. "I begged him for years to quit, but he wanted to hold on to it; he loved Dominos," she said. 

Maybe it was because Dominos brought them together six years ago. The couple was set up by Katie's sister, who was a manager for the pizza chain.

"She told me about all these cute guys working there," Katie said.

They were supposed to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day after Nate's shift, but Katie's world changed when sheriff's deputies came to their home asking if someone from Domino’s lived there.

"Katie went ballistic when they told us he was missing," said Bernadette Alness, Nate's mother-in-law.

Alness, sat next to Katie during the interview. Both women wore black shirts with Nate's photo printed on the front.

Katie said the photo on those shirts was the last picture she took of her husband before he headed to work at his full-time job at IBM. The family had just returned home from a vacation at Disneyland in California.

The picture shows a smiling Nate Leon, wearing a gray shirt and tie, with little images of "Jack Skellington," the main character from the movie "The Nightmare Before Christmas."

Jack was one of his favorite movie characters, Katie remembers.

"This wasn’t supposed to happen," she said with tears pooling in the corners of her eyes, "We were going to grow old together; we were going to chase each other around the nursing home in wheelchairs."

Her two children, Scotlynn and Irelynn, help her wake-up every day.

"Without them, I probably wouldn’t be here right now," Katie said. "They are my rocks, they are my strength."

Explaining to her daughters, 4-year-old twins, what happened to their father has been hard, she said.

Nate had a daughter from a previous relationship, whom he also loved, said Katie.

The family blames the Colorado Department of Corrections for failing to maintain a watch on Evan Ebel, the man who presumably killed Leon.

"It just swirls around our house," said Alness. "The pain, the anger. The anger, that's the big thing I think now, anger."

Since her husband’s murder nine weeks ago, Katie said she hasn’t heard an apology from the DOC.

"They sent me a letter, with one paragraph on it," Katie said.

She called the paragraph an empty message.

The CALL7 Investigators showed the Leon family what it had uncovered over the past few weeks; A lack of accountability and an absence of policies requiring parole officers to respond to tamper alerts of ankle bracelets.

According to the DOC, Ebel cut off his ankle monitor and his parole officer didn’t check in on him for six days, until after the murder of Nate and Tom Clements. 

"There has to be something done differently, so other families don’t lose their Nate, because we lost ours," said Alness. "There should have been so many things, we feel, that were done differently. He (Ebel) needed to be watched more closely."

Since the murders, the DOC created a new policy where parole officers are required to respond to tamper alerts within two hours.

"If we do something wrong, we're held liable, or how that works. I mean it's a criminal act. We get arrested, go to jail, whatever. But somehow, we are held accountable. So by this blatant disregard for the bells and whistles that went off and they don't have to be accountable, how's that right?" asked Alness.

She questioned the responsibility of the DOC and the officers in charge of the parolee.

"I am not saying Evan Ebel doesn't have a responsible part because he's the one who did it, [but] someone should have stopped him," said Alness.

Katie agreed with her mother, saying, "They might as well have stood around my husband and they all should have stood around my husband and they all should have pulled the trigger, because they are all just as liable as Evan Ebel, in my mind."

For Katie, her focus is now on her daughters and explaining why daddy isn’t coming home.

"How do you get up every morning and how do you look at your little 4-year-old girls and doing it alone? Daddy's not going to be home to watch them on their first day of school, when that was the most important thing to Nate -- to watch his little girls go to school and get married and have kids."

 

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