Homicide Victim Found Near Breckenridge Identified

Body Of Karl Fred Kohler Found In 'Squatters' Campsite In Shadow Of Ski Resort

Authorities in Summit County have identified the body of a man found slain in a squatter's campsite near Breckenridge ski resort.

The victim was identified through fingerprints Tuesday as 45-year-old Karl Fred Kohler. Investigators said he was a transient who was living in a tent at an unauthorized campsite near the Burro trailhead in the White River National Forest.

At a Sunday afternoon news briefing, Summit County Sheriff's Capt. Jaime FitzSimons said it's not unusual for people working seasonal jobs in Breckenridge to camp in the woods rather than renting housing in town. Other squatters camps were found in the area, he said.

FitzSimons declined to discuss details of the investigation, including how long the man appeared to be have been dead and if there were any visible signs of trauma.

Yet, workers at a nearby gas station, who did not want to be identified, told 7NEWS deputies specifically asked them if they had seen a man carrying a baseball bat shortly after the body was found.

"They said the body appeared to have been hit in the head with a baseball bat," said one worker.

FitzSimons said the body remained in the woods until Sunday afternoon -- more than 24 hours after it was discovered – as sheriff and Colorado Bureau of Investigation investigators painstakingly processed the crime scene. Coroner's officials removed the body about 4:30 p.m., 7NEWS reporter Jaclyn Allen reported from the scene.

The body, found about 200 feet from a tent containing the man's belongings, was concealed in woods about 100 yards south of the trailhead near Beaver Run Resort.

Summit County sheriff's detectives investigate the homicide of a man whose body was found near a squatter's camp in the shadow of Breckenridge Ski Resort.

FitzSimons said he doesn't think the community should be alarmed.

"It appears to be an isolated incident," he said. "Breckenridge is a really safe place, safe community. Lots of people come here to recreate, to enjoy skiing, hiking, camping. This is an isolated incident."

Yet, the killing has people on edge in the close-knit mountain town.

"It's a very safe community. I've never felt threatened ever in my life," said resident Nicole Trombetta, who until now had slept with her doors unlocked.

"It's just really scary knowing there is someone here who could potentially harm my friends and my family," Trombetta said. "My roommates went out last night and I was saying, 'Call me, I don't want you walking around. It's just scary that there's someone out there or could be someone out there."

Tyler Byfield said he was hiking in the woods a few weeks back and saw a tent that may have belonged to the victim.

"I thought somebody squatting out there was just trying to avoid taxes and avoid paying rent," Byfield said. "I didn't ever think there was going to be a murder out of it."

"They're going to try to catch him, and I hope they do," Byfield said of the killer.

Robert Reid said he walks his dog every day by the area where the squatter was camping.

"There's always somebody camped on that hill," said Reid. "You could easily camp there and 100 people could go through there and wouldn't see you unless they went off the trail, over a ditch and up a steep hill."

The coroner is expected to conduct an autopsy early in the week.

Anyone with information about any potential witnesses or suspects is asked to contact sheriff's Detective Jared Dennis at 970-423-8907 or JaredD@co.summit.co.us.

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