DENVER – The body of a mother of four found stabbed to death inside a downtown Denver loft on Valentine’s Day had possibly been there for days, and the suspected killer arrested in the case tried to cover up the crime, an arrest affidavit obtained by Denver7 indicates.
The arrest affidavit states responding police officers entered Leslie’s apartment at the Rio Grande Lofts late Tuesday evening into the early hours of Wednesday to an “overwhelming smell of decomposition,” before finding blood scattered throughout the apartment, including stains on the carpet, the walls of the entry way as well as clothes that were left on the floor.
As officers made their way through the crime scene, they found Leslie stabbed to death inside the bathroom, naked from the waist down. She was declared dead at Denver Health Medical Center at 1:10 a.m., according to the affidavit.
A search warrant was issued for the apartment and during the execution of the search, officers observed “what appeared to be large amounts of blood throughout the studio apartment on the floor and the walls, and attempts to clean up or cover the stains,” the affidavit shows.
Officers found blood clothing, more spread throughout apartment
Bloody clothing belonging to the victim was found, along with four stainless knives, two of which were table knives. At least two of the knives had blood on them, according to the affidavit.
Inside the apartment, officers also found empty cardboard carriers for a six-pack of Corona beer and a six-pack of Guinness beer. One of the Guinness bottles had blood on it and was found on the floor of the entry way.
Police also found a pair of tan, green and black camouflage cargo style men’s pants with blood on them, near the bed and the door to the bathroom. A large light tan sweatshirt with a fish logo in a circular pattern on the front, “also with suspected blood,” was found lying on the floor on the opposite side of the door to the bathroom, the affidavit states.
While combing through the crime scene, police also found a custody report from the Wheat Ridge Police Department belonging to Terry Lane Dunford II, a brown Quicksilver wallet with a Department of Veterans Affairs ID card, a Hawaii issued driver’s license, and a Denver Rescue Mission ID card.
Victim, suspect caught by liquor store surveillance video
The affidavit also shows police found a receipt from Champa Fine Wine & Liquor store in the pocket of the tan pants with blood stains, which was located in the entry way of the apartment, dated February 7 with a time stamp of 5:04 p.m.
A follow-up investigation led officers to the store to obtain surveillance video from that day, which showed Leslie and Dunford entering and leaving the liquor store in a short time. In the video, Dunford is carrying “what appears to be a six-pack of Corona bottles and a six pack of Guinness bottles,” according to the arrest affidavit.
On Valentine’s Day, homicide detectives interviewed Leslie’s ex-husband, who gave them a description of her vehicle – a Nissan Rogue – which led officers to a parking garage across the street.
There, officers found the car and noted “that it appeared to have a thin layer of dust on it,” the affidavit states.
Later that day, investigators contacted the parking garage contractor to determine the last time Leslie had used her vehicle.
A key card log indicated Leslie had last used her key card to access the garage on Feb. 6 at 4:28 p.m. Surveillance video shows Leslie exiting the garage at approximately 4:33 p.m. that day.
Investigators pin down the suspect from surveillance video, photos from ID cards
Investigators were able to connect Dunford to the crime after clothing captured by the surveillance video of the liquor store from Feb. 7 matched that found inside the bloody apartment a week later.
“The tan, green and black camouflage cargo style men's pants, and the tan sweatshirt with the logo on the front, with suspected blood stains, that were recovered from the crime scene, are a match to the clothing being worn by the male party in the liquor store surveillance video,” the affidavit states.
Prints taken on Feb. 15 from the knives at the crime scene also matched those on file for Dunford, the affidavit shows.
Further, screenshots captured from a surveillance camera in the hallway of the loft show Dunford wearing a light-colored crew neck top, an image “consistent with the picture of Terry Dunford from the Rescue Mission identification card issued February 7, 2018,” the affidavit states. The time stamps on those images shows a date of Feb. 7.
The arrest affidavit also states police detectives obtained a digital log of Leslie’s phone and found “the last time call activity registered on the victim’s phone was February 7, 2018 at 3:29 p.m.” with the last text reread on at 1:43 p.m. that same day.
According to posts from her Facebook page, Leslie recently moved to Denver from Texas. She had at least one child and worked in education at some point.
Suspect arrested three days later
Dunford was arrested in the area of 19th and Blake Streets at about 11 p.m. Friday. He is currently being held for investigation of first-degree murder, a class 1 felony. He is being held without bond in Denver County Jail.
Dunford's public defender did not provide a comment for this story to Denver7.