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03:15:58 PM MST Wednesday, December 24, 1997

23-year-old woman dies from beating

Death ruled homicide

Camera Staff Writer

The 23-year-old University of Colorado woman found severely beaten in a downtown Boulder alley early Sunday died from severe head injuries at 11:35 p.m. Monday at Boulder Community Hospital.

The death of Susannah Chase was officially ruled a homicide by the Boulder County Coroner's Office Tuesday afternoon. Police do not have any suspects or motive in the weekend attack.

"Its' still pretty creepy that they don't have anybody locked up," said neighbor Linda Ellis, who lives one house away from where Chase is believed to have been attacked.

Chief Medical Investigator Tom Faure of the coroners office would not say if there any signs the woman was sexually assaulted. Complete autopsy results wont be available for weeks, he said.

Preliminary indications were that Chase was not sexually assaulted, Boulder Police Cmdr. John Eller told about 30 Whittier neighbors Monday night.

Eller, however, repeatedly stressed extreme concern for women walking alone at night in the Whittier neighborhood east of Boulders Downtown Mall.

About 2 a.m. Tuesday, a man with a red substance on his shoes who ran from police and referred to the woman and a baseball bat was arrested in connection with urinating in public and obstruction of justice. When stopped in an alley behind the 1100 block of the Downtown Mall, the man told a patrol officer that he had nothing to do with the womans beating. He said he saw a bat near his van near 19th and Pearl streets, near where Chase was beaten.

A search of the mans van did not reveal signs of blood, and the case was closed. The report was handed to Boulder Det. Kerry Yamaguchi, the lead investigator for the case. The man, apparently homeless, remains in Boulder County Jail on a $100 bond.

Detectives were unavailable to comment on the arrest.

Police have interviewed and released several people, including Chase's boyfriend, a man suspected of beating two other CU women and a homeless man. Family and neighbors said their good-byes to Chase during a 6 p.m. memorial service at First United Methodist Church. Flowers and a photo of the young woman were left at the southwest corner sidewalk of 18th and Spruce streets, where police believe she may have been attacked.

Boulder Police Chief Tom Koby pulled detectives from the JonBenet Ramsey murder case and Christmas vacations are being cut short to focus on the third murder in the city this year. More than a dozen detectives are working on the case, but investigators revealed little new information Tuesday.

"They didn't have anything they felt they wanted to share with the media or public," said city of Boulder spokeswoman Leslie Aaholm.

Police found Chase partially unconscious about 3:40 Sunday morning in an alley between Spruce and Pearl streets near 19th Street. It appears she was beaten and dragged on a sidewalk across the street from her home at 18th and Spruce streets. Police recovered a metal baseball bat in the area.

Boulder police have combed the streets interviewing people between the woman's home and Abo's Pizza at 950 Pearl Street, where an employee named Shannon told police he might have seen Chase at 1:15 a.m.

The employee has since left town and was unavailable for interviews. Another employee said reports that Chase and one or two men she was with got into a fight were exaggerated.

Some officials said they may look at links between Chase's murder that that of a homeless man found beaten to death on University of Colorado property near Boulder Creek in early September. David Emmett Simpson, known as "Mad Dog," also was severely beaten about the head.

"That's something we are going to have to look at," said CU Sgt. Brett Brough Tuesday. "We basically gave them (Boulder police) all the information we had" about Simpson's killing, which also is unsolved.

Brent Turvey, a forensic scientist who does consulting work for California law enforcement and defense attorneys, said judging by what he's heard of the violence inflicted on Chase, the beating was retaliatory. Chase represented something her assailant hated. Whether it was an institution or women in general, the beating was likely meant as a punishment, Turvey said.

"If she's sweet and everybody loves her, that defines a certain sort of victim. She's a daisy he needs to stomp on to make his point to punish somebody ... maybe females in general," Turvey said. "It's because of what she is and what she represents to the offender. Because of the level of the brutality, the motivation in this attack is retaliatory, he is punishing the victim for a real or perceived wrong."

Police advised residents to keep their doors locked and be on the lookout for anything that seems strange or unusual in their neighborhood.

Camera Staff Writer Heather Morgan contributed to this report.

Contact the NewsRoom or BoulderNews.

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