(COLORADO SPRINGS) — The Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD) is opening its Cold Case Files in hopes of closing some of them for good. FOX21 Morning News Anchor Abbie Burke is highlighting several cases with known suspects that police have been unable to locate.
On June 21, 1999, it was a Monday night, about an hour before midnight at the Wagon Wheel Lounge, a local dive bar, on East Plate Avenue. It would be this night, when Jorge Mangarres, never saw his killer coming.
“Officers arrived and found an individual inside the bar who suffered an apparent gunshot wound,” said Sergeant Marcus Lehmkuhl of CSPD. “That individual was transported to a local hospital and later succumbed to his injuries.”
According to an article in the Colorado Springs Gazette two days later, witnesses said Mangarres was sitting at the bar when someone walked up behind him, placed a gun behind his left ear, and pulled the trigger.
“I can’t get into the details. I know there are articles out there, but I can’t speak to the information in them,” said Lehmkuhl.
Mangarres was said to be a regular at the bar and neighbors told the Gazette he shared an apartment nearby with a woman and three young girls, believed to be his wife and children.
“During the investigation, a suspect was identified,” said Lehmkuhl. “That suspect has been identified as Benancio Chavez-Zea. An arrest warrant was issued for him for First-Degree Murder. Since that time, law enforcement hasn’t been able to locate him and his whereabouts are currently unknown.”
Police could not comment on a possible motive for the shooting but investigators believe Mangarres was targeted. “We do not believe this was a random incident,” said Lehmkuhl.
Mangarres was originally from Sonora, Mexico, and police have been unable to contact his family in recent years but Lehmkuhl said it’s still important to find his killer.
“Benancio had ties here, we don’t know if he still does,” said Lehmkuhl. “We don’t know if he still does have ties to this community. We currently have no idea where he’s at.”
At the time Chavez-Zea was described as being 6’1″, about 180 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. Today he would be 69 years old.
“This individual’s been out and about in our community and maybe elsewhere since 1999 and has not answered for what he did and that needs to happen,” said Lehmkuhl.
Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact CSPD at (719) 444-7000. Tips can also be made anonymously to Crime Stoppers at (719) 634-STOP.