Cold case: Denver police continue to investigate state trooper's Dec. 27, 1973 murder

Tom Carpenter death_2020 graphic.jpg
Posted at 4:00 AM, Dec 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-27 06:00:46-05

DENVER — Forty-seven years ago, a Colorado trooper was found fatally shot in his patrol vehicle but as of Sunday, no arrests have been made in the case. The Denver Police Department said it is continuing to investigate the cold case and is asking for the community's help.

The Denver Police Department said on Dec. 27, 1973, Colorado State Trooper Thomas "Tom" Carpenter, 31, said goodbye to his wife and three young children and left home. Later that morning, he was found shot and dead in his patrol car in the Montbello area.

As of Sunday, nobody has been arrested in connection to his murder.

Limited information was available during the first stages of the investigation, but police know Carpenter was last seen around 9 a.m. that morning on the westbound on-ramp from Broadway to U.S. 36. Initial reports say he was with another vehicle — which was later determined to have been stolen — and a Black man and white man, according to Denver police. A short time later, reports said Carpenter was spotted driving his patrol vehicle with both men inside near Interstate 25 and Interstate 70.

At 10:50 a.m., witnesses reported seeing a white man and Black man running from the patrol vehicle, which was found at 13870 Albrook Drive, according to Denver police.

Carpenter was found deceased in the driver's seat. He had been shot from somebody in the backseat.

The Denver Police Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation immediately began examining the case. While individuals were questioned, no arrests were made.

Two years later, Carpenter's gun was found in a ditch in New Mexico.

Colonel Matthew Packard, chief of the Colorado State Patrol, said Carpenter was a devoted husband, father and trooper.

“Someone must know something about the murder of Trooper Carpenter," Packard said. "We are pleading that anyone with information, even if it seems insignificant, to please call the Denver police so that the family can receive closure in this case.”

Carpenter graduated from the Colorado State Patrol academy in 1968, after serving in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was described as a "kind, calm, religious man, who was quick to help someone in need," according to the Denver Police Department.

In 2012, the case was reviewed by Denver investigators, and it was reopened in 2018. A cold case detective who was assigned the case then is continuing to investigate the homicide.

In addition, the Denver Police Crime Laboratory made the case a priority.

Denver Police Chief Paul M. Pazen said while about 50 years have passed since the murder, the department remains hopeful that they can solve the case through new community tips and re-examining the case from a modern perspective.

Metro Denver Crime Stoppers is offering $10,000 for information on this case. Call 720-913-7867 to submit an anonymous tip.

Denver police released the below video regarding this case on Dec. 21, 2020.