Arapahoe County, Colo. -- Investigators have identified a 74-year-old homicide victim whose body was discovery in a car trunk after the accused killed turned himself in on a minor warrant at the Arapahoe County jail.
It took four days to confirm the identity of the shooting victim, Thomas Datema of Byers, because he lived as 80-year-old "William J. Voth," Arapahoe County sheriff's officials said Wednesday
Investigators and coroner's officials had such difficulty confirming Datema's identity, they resorted to running his fingerprints through a national criminal database in hopes of getting a hit.
Several residents in Byers, a small Eastern Plains town, told 7NEWS on Tuesday they knew the victim, who lived in an apartment over the Washtub Laundromat, as "Bill," an elderly farmhand who'd worked for decades on area farms.
Investigators say Robert Leroy Johnson admitted luring Datema to a country road Thursday on the pretext that his truck wouldn't start, then shot the victim in the back of the head, according to court records.
In a bizarre odyssey, the 40-year-old Johnson said he spent the next 2 ½ days feeding the dead man's cat and taking his mother for a last gambling trip in Blackhawk, according to an arrest affidavit written by an Arapahoe County sheriff's investigator.
Johnson also drove his dead friend's body around in the trunk of the victim's white four-door sedan, before apologizing to the corpse and vowing to pray for him, the affidavit.
Johnson then drove the sedan with the body in the trunk to the Arapahoe County Detention Center about 11:20 a.m. on Saturday and told deputies he wanted to turn himself in on some outstanding warrants, the affidavit said.
Johnson was arrested and is being held without bond on investigation of first-degree murder, Line said.
At a Tuesday hearing in Arapahoe County District Court, Johnson was advised of his rights, district attorney spokeswoman Casimir Spencer said. Formal charges are expected to be filed during a Thursday morning court hearing, she said.
Neighbors Say Victim Was Old Farmhand
Byers residents called the victim "Bill," a well-liked elderly farmhand whose health was frail.
“Bill was a very nice guy who came in here four or five times a week to eat," said an employee of the Country Burger eatery near the victim's apartment.
A woman named Dolores Tippett said Bill was a farmhand who had worked for the Lloyd Linnebur family for 20 some years.
She said Bill used to attend mass regularly at the Catholic Church. She added that he was battling prostate cancer.
Tippett said Johnson, the suspect, worked at the grocery store in Byers. She said he was quiet and rarely talked to anyone.
Johnson: Elderly Friend Harassed Him For Sex
Johnson told investigators that he and his victim are gay. Johnson said he shot his friend because since December 2009 the older man has "wanted to have sex with him [and] has been harassing him through phone calls and text messages," the affidavit said.
At about 8 a.m. Thursday, Johnson said, he received several phone calls and text messages from the older man "that were sexual in nature," the affidavit said.
From his parent's home, Johnson said he called the older man and "made up a story that that his truck had broken down on County Road 181 "outside Byers, the affidavit said. The older friend said he would drive over with a strap to tow the truck.
Johnson jumped in his pickup and drove to County Road 181 and parked where he knew his friend would pass by, the affidavit said. Johnson said he had his father's 9mm handgun in tucked in a holster in his waistband.
The older man arrived and parked in front of Johnson's pickup. The two men met between the two vehicles, where the older man popped open the trunk of his sedan, the affidavit said.
"While [the victim] was looking for the tow strap, [Robert] pulled out the 9mm from his waist … held the gun approximately 6 inches from the back of his head and shot [the man]," according to the affidavit.
"[The victim] fell into the trunk and his body was hanging half way in and out. … [Robert] pushed [the] body into the trunk and shut it," according to the affidavit. "He then wiped off the blood that was on the trunk."
Johnson said he got into the friend's car and drove to the older man's apartment, the affidavit said. There, in the parking lot, he used paper towels and 409 cleanser to wipe "a large amount of blood" from the sedan.
Johnson said he left the unloaded handgun in the front seat of the victim's sedan, covered with a newspaper, the affidavit said.
Returning To Victim's Apartment
In a strange twist, Johnson said he used a key to enter the victim's apartment and fed his cat, the affidavit said.
"[He] decided to open several cabinets and dresser drawers to make it look like a robbery took place," the affidavit said. "He then decided that this was a dumb thing to do and closed everything back up."
As he left the apartment, Johnson said he saw a woman with a little boy whom he recognized as a friend of the dead man, the affidavit said.
Johnson told the woman he was taking the older man gambling "so that no one would be concerned where [the victim] was," the affidavit said.
The woman questioned the outing, raising the older man's health.
Investigators said the woman later confirmed seeing Johnson on Thursday outside the victim's apartment, the affidavit said.
The owner of the Washtub laundromat, who leased the apartment to the victim, declined speak with 7NEWS Tuesday. She was upset and said she didn't want to jeopardize the investigation. The owner said she would release a statement next week.
Johnson Rushes Home To Clean Up
Johnson said he than walked and ran back to his truck on the rural road and drove it home.
Johnson told investigators he needed to be back by home 5 p.m., because that’s when his mom arrived home.
He took off his bloodstained jeans and hid them by a doggie door in the garage, the affidavit said.
"He stayed up all night, because he couldn't sleep," the affidavit said.
A Last Trip With Mom
Johnson said, "He wanted to confess to the murder Thursday, but wanted to spend time with his mother," the affidavit said.
So, on Friday morning, he and his mother drove to Blackhawk where they spent the day gambling at several casinos, including the Riviera, Isle of Capri, Lady Luck, Ameristar, Fitzgeralds, Fortune Valley and Gilpin Hotel. The mother and son returned home about 6 p.m. Friday.
On Saturday, Johnson woke up about 6 a.m. and left his mother a note, saying he was going to work on a farm and might not get home until that night, the affidavit said.
He sign the note, "Me."
Johnson drove back to his dead friend's apartment, fed the man's cat, again, and turned off the television, according to the affidavit said. He got into the victim's car with the body in the trunk and began driving toward the jail, the affidavit said.
Johnson pulled in at a Home Depot near E-470 and East Smoky Hill Road and parked in the back of the parking lot, the affidavit said.
Farewell To Friend
"He opened the trunk because wanted to say, 'Goodbye,'" according to the affidavit. "He couldn't see [the man's] face, so he moved him to see [his] face."
"He told [the dead friend] that he was sorry and that he would pray for him," the affidavit said.
"He then closed the trunk and came to the ... jail," the affidavit said.
Investigators said they found what appeared to be drops of dried blood on the license plate frame below the trunk of the victim's car, the affidavit said. The car's bumper appeared to have been wiped, but a "brownish residue was still apparent."