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Man wanted in '78 Denver murder arrested after miscommunication led to early release

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Posted at 4:43 PM, Nov 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-03 22:31:52-04

DENVER – A 60-year-old homeless man wanted for murdering a man in Denver in 1978 was arrested Friday evening. However, this was not the first time Shawn Winkler was placed into police custody in connection with the cold case murder in the past two weeks.

Winkler was briefly in custody earlier this week, but a misunderstanding involving the court and district attorney’s office put him back on the street. Details of Friday's arrest were not released.

On Thursday, the Denver Police Department issued a Crime Stoppers alert for Winkler, saying they needed help finding him in connection with the cold case. He was taken into custody in the past two weeks, but while prosecutors were working to file an extension for the case, a miscommunication about the filing time led to his release.

According to Maro Casparian with the Denver District Attorney’s Office, prosecutors believed they had to file their intent to file charges motion by Monday at 1 p.m. Prosecutors did so, but the court argued that instead, prosecutors had been directed to file the case by 1 p.m.

Since the case hadn’t been filed, the court released Winkler, Casparian said. He added that the case is now filed.

“When Winkler is apprehended, which we are confident will occur quickly, the case will be ready to proceed,” Casparian said.

According to DPD, Winkler is still at large. He can often be found in downtown Denver and along South Broadway, and is homeless, police added. He was last seen wearing a grey hoodie, and typically walks with a cane.

Court records show the warrant for his arrest carries charges of first-degree murder after deliberation, felony murder, two counts of violent crime causing death and one sentence enhancer.

Winkler is accused of killing 28-year-old Van Rogers in January 1978 behind an apartment complex near the intersection of 12th Avenue and Ogden Street in Capitol Hill.

He had special needs as a child, but was living on his own at the time. His autopsy showed he’d been beaten to death, according to DPD cold case records.