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45-year-old grudge could have prompted bomb placed in Boulder County

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Posted at 1:38 PM, Oct 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-24 15:38:29-04

NEDERLAND, Colo. -- A murder committed in 1971 and a bomb planted in 2016. The two stories out of quiet Nederland in Boulder County may have quite a few ties. 

A bomb that failed to go off on Oct. 11 prompted the response of bomb squad members and authorities from a dozen law enforcement agencies -- including the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 

Soon after dismantling the explosive device and investigating the area, police took into custody a little person from California. 

Authorities eventually identified that person as David Michael Ansberry, a 64-year-old who has ties to the Nederland area. 

Named in a criminal complaint, federal authorities say Ansberry not only made and placed the bomb -- which police described as a very "real threat" -- he wired it to blow up via a cell phone. 

The explosion never happened and nobody was injured. That allowed police to dig into the story and learn why Ansberry allegedly would want to blow up something in Nederland. 

Officers say the target of the bomb almost assuredly was the Nederland Marshal's Office. The bomb had been placed in a bag nearby, and an officer brought the bag inside. 

That's likely what the suspect wanted, according to the criminal complaint. 

What would a Californian want with a police headquarters in a town of just a few thousand residents? He may have been friends with a murder victim from a case that dates back to hippie era and the peace, love and happiness that accompanied the 1970s.

In an interview with Denver7's partners at the Denver Post, 67-year-old Richard “Rick” Bertschinger, a retired construction worker, said he spotted 3-foot-6 Ansberry multiple times in Nederland in the months leading up to the death of Guy Gaughnor in 1971.

Bertschinger said it would be hard to miss Ansberry, who stands at a distinctive height and was purportedly part of a group of hippies who relocated to the Rocky Mountains from California, New York and other parts of the country amid protests of the Vietnam War.

Gaughnor, 19 years old at the time, also was part of the group called STP, most-often referred to as the STP Family. 

Members of the STP Family, including Gaughnor, were frequently referred to as troublemakers in the town, causing feelings of unease among the town's permanent residents. 

In 1998, police in Nederland had one last tangle with Gaughnor, when they solved the teen's murder decades later. A former Nederland Marshal by the name of Renner Forbes, whose health had been failing, confessed to current law enforcement he had killed Gaughnor.

Forbes, who had multiple run-ins with Gaughnor (also known as "Deputy Dawg") admitted he took the teen's life on the night of July 17, 1971 after citizens complained about the teen yet again. Forbes dumped the body and evidence down a mine shaft. 

The murder case became relevant again when a bomb failed to go off just outside the Nederland Marshal's Office 45 years later. 

According to Dan Harrow, who spoke to the Denver Post at his nearby laundromat, a sticker put on his business' window just before the bomb was placed linked the murder to the October scare.

The sticker, identified to the Denver Post as an "STP Family" sticker, had a note on the back that reportedly said "Rest in Peace Deputy Dawg July 17, 1971." 

Authorities publicly have been quiet about the investigation, releasing no public statements after the arrest of Ansberry. However, it certainly has been the talk of one small Colorado town. 

"If it's a 45-year-old grudge, that is profoundly sad," Alisha Reis, Nederland town administrator, said to the Daily Camera

Whether or not Ansberry left the note remains to be seen, but police were able to locate him halfway across the country hours after dismantling the bomb. 

Denver7 will continue to follow this story. See more coverage from the night of the bomb's discovery here. 

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