When Larry Fuller was found slumped over, dead from a gunshot wound, on an Ignacio street in the early hours of Jan. 1, 2009, investigators were left with little evidence with which to identify a suspect. Fuller had left the Sidekick Bar, but nobody saw his assailant.
Details, such as where Fuller was shot, how many times and with what weapon were all withheld from the public. And for years, his family wondered who would kill someone they described as a likable, easygoing father.
When investigators announced last month that an arrest had been made in the nearly 15-year-old cold case, Fuller’s stepdaughter, Monyca Escalante, said the feeling was “unreal.”
David Hendren, 38, was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder May 18 on the Navajo Nation in Arizona and extradited to La Plata County.
The arrest warrant affidavit written by Colorado Bureau of Investigation Agent Brandon Ludwig contains long-awaited details about Fuller’s death.
Fuller was found to have died as a result of a single gunshot wound to the face. Investigators found a spent 9 mm cartridge on the ground, but little other evidence.
The statement also contains a lengthy and confusing narrative that outlines Hendren’s motive in the alleged crime. Most of the evidence against Hendren relies on statements made by Angel Garcia, a resident of Phoenix, who contacted authorities in 2013. Motivated by guilt and fear, Garcia told investigators that he was with Hendren in Ignacio the night Fuller was killed.
The two had been together at the bar where Fuller had been celebrating the new year with his family. They were also with Hendren’s brother, Hosteen Hendren, who had been in a fight with another man at the bar.
Investigators would later corroborate that Hosteen Hendren had been in a fight with a man named Bo Watts, whose body type and haircut resembled Fuller’s.
At Hendren’s request, Garcia drove along Goddard Avenue as Hendren followed Fuller. Without realizing what was happening, Garcia watched as Hendren shot Fuller in the head at close range. Hendren jumped in Garcia’s truck, and the two drove away from the scene.
According to Garcia’s statement to Ignacio Police and CBI investigators, Hendren tossed a handgun into a snowbank out of the moving vehicle. The affidavit does not contain any indication that investigators found the alleged murder weapon.
Garcia picked Hendren out of a police lineup at the time of his first interview.
After Garcia came forward with this story in 2013, the affidavit says “the case once again went cold.” It contains no explanation for the decade that elapsed before Hendren’s arrest.
Ignacio Police Sgt. Wes Crume, representing what was the lead investigatory agency in 2013, referred questions about that matter to CBI. A CBI spokeswoman declined to comment, citing a policy that the agency does not comment on open cases.
“It’s kind of disappointing, honestly, if they had info and they didn’t pursue it,” said Fuller’s stepson, Chris Madril.
His sister, Escalante, said she was just grateful that an arrest had finally been made.
On Feb. 3 of this year, CBI became the lead investigatory agency. Agent Ludwig took over and began to piece together evidence using interviews with multiple people present at the Sidekick Bar the night of Fuller’s death. Information from Fuller’s family members and other law enforcement officers who responded to a fight at the bar that night allowed Ludwig to construct a narrative.
“It is believed that David Hendren followed Fuller out of the bar being under the impression he was the person who had assaulted his brother Hosteen,” Ludwig’s affidavit reads. “Hosteen fought with Bo Watts inside the bar who shares the same physical traits as Fuller. It is believed that David Hendren killed Larry Fuller during a case of mistaken identity.”
Ludwig also concluded that Garcia’s statements contained information that only someone present the night of Fuller’s killing would know, such as where Fuller was shot and how many times.
Hendren will be charged in 6th Judicial District Court on June 14.