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Deputies investigating suspected homicide after missing Boulder man’s body found at vacant home

Suspect is self-identified "sovereign citizen," police say
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Posted at 7:22 AM, Jul 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-31 17:47:24-04

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. — Just before Boulder County deputies discovered a human body in a Fourmile Canyon home, the 25-year-old suspect they had in custody had said he was “going to claim insanity.”

Shortly before noon on Tuesday, Boulder County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to the area around Camino Bosque in Fourmile Canyon after receiving a report of a missing person. They learned that 57-year-old Jeffrey Michael Lynch, of Boulder, had had plans to visit his girlfriend on Sunday, but had not arrived, according to an arrest affidavit.

Lynch’s son, who is 28 years old, told authorities he had not seen or heard from his father and was now concerned, according to the sheriff’s office. He started to look for his father. Around this time, he called his father’s friend, who had recently hired the 57-year-old to work as a handyman in her vacant home on Camino Bosque.

The woman, Leslie Tydings, her daughter and Lynch's son decided to visit the home to see if they could find Lynch. When they arrived, they said the windows had been taped up so nobody could see inside, according to the affidavit and an interview with Tydings, who described Lynch as a "very, very good friend" in an interview with Denver7 on Wednesday.

Tydings said she had left the home's windows and blinds open to air out the home but they were closed. When they went into the garage from inside the home, they immediately smelled bleach and spotted a man and Lynch's vehicle inside the garage.

Tydings said her daughter told her to run once they spotted the man and called police. She said she believed the man was trying to kill them as well.

"He was picking up a shovel and was trying to kill us both," Tydings said. "The police arrived in the nick of time."

When deputies arrived at the home, Tydings was standing in the driveway waving her hands. The garage door was open.

A deputy walked down the driveway and saw a male in the garage who was carrying a handful of shovels with the shovel ends in a plastic trash bag. The man dropped the shovels and ran in between two cars in the garage, according to the affidavit. He then pushed the garage door button to try to close the garage, which a deputy stopped by putting his foot across the garage sensor. When the man tried to run inside, a deputy yelled at him to stop and walk toward him. The suspect complied.

At this point, the deputy recognized the man as 25-year-old Stephen Christopher Wolf of Gold Hill. He knew Wolf identified as a sovereign citizen. The deputy also recognized Wolf’s car in the garage. The Sunday before, the same car had been involved in a hit and run in Boulder, according to the affidavit.

The deputies put Wolf in handcuffs for their own safety and asked if Lynch was inside the home. Wolf repeated, “I want my lawyer” and said, “I’m going to claim insanity” and “I need to go to the hospital,” according to the affidavit.

After placing Wolf in a deputy’s vehicle, authorities searched the home which was described as being “remarkably clean.” When they went into the garage, they smelled a strong odor of bleach. They didn’t see anything suspicious in plain view in Wolf’s car. Deputies noticed the driver’s seat of Lynch’s car was encased in plastic. When they opened the trunk of the vehicle, they found a human body wrapped in a clear plastic bag, the affidavit reads.

Wolf was detained on suspicion of homicide. Deputies found a 3-inch fixed blade knife in a sheath with possible blood on it in his pocket.

Back at the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office, a detective met with Wolf. He told the detective that he felt he had been set up, the home’s garage had “magically opened” and Lynch had attacked Wolf and then, somehow, Lynch was dead and he felt he had to cover it up, according to the affidavit.

Detectives also talked with Tydings, who was friends with Lynch and who owned the vacant home. She told authorities she had gone into the home on Wednesday after noticing the that the blinds and windows were shut even though she’d left them open the last time she was there. When she walked into the garage through an interior door, she smelled bleach and saw a man —later identified as Wolf — sitting in Lynch’s car, according to the affidavit.

Tydings told the detective she did not know Wolf and had not hired him for any cleaning and didn’t believe Lynch would have either. She thought she could help the man with her nursing background, so she asked him what he was doing in the house. He replied, “I’m here to clean,” according to the affidavit, and said the police were after him. She said Wolf appeared deranged.

When detectives spoke with Wolf’s mother, she told them that her other son had said Wolf called early on Tuesday and wanted to sell all of his belongings to come home for mental health help in Illinois. His mother told authorities that he was a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic and she had cut him off financially two weeks prior, according to the affidavit. His brother had done the same, and the three of them had sat down to discuss Wolf getting mental health care, his brother told detectives.

During a search of the Fourmile Canyon home, authorities found a bag with a gun, six loaded magazines, a face mask, gloves, a knife and other items, according to the affidavit.

Wolf had been arrested three times in 2018: once for a traffic violation in Lafayette, once for obstruction and having a loaded weapon in his car in Boulder, and once for failure to comply in Boulder County.

Wolf was booked into the Boulder County Jail early Wednesday morning on charges of first-degree murder, felony murder, second-degree burglary, tampering with a deceased human body and tampering with physical evidence. He is being held without bond.

The sheriff’s office said they are not releasing Wolf’s booking photo yet.

The Boulder County Coroner’s Office will determine the Lynch’s cause and manner of death.