• Diego Olmos Alcalde is charged in the 1997 murder of Susannah Chase.



BOULDER, Colo. –

The Boulder Police Department has changed the way it records leads on criminal investigations after detectives failed to follow up on a 2001 tip that suggested “Diego Ivan Olmos Alcalad” as a suspect in the 1997 Susannah Chase homicide.

Although the name in the tip was misspelled, Diego Olmos Alcalde, 39, was arrested last year on suspicion of raping and fatally beating the University of Colorado student with a baseball bat. The tip was discovered only after Alcalde’s DNA — entered into a federal database because of an unrelated kidnapping conviction — matched crime-scene evidence.

Police officials questioned why no one followed up on the tip, which had the subject line “girl that was killed with baseball bat,” and they made changes to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen again, Boulder police Chief Mark Beckner said Monday.

“We knew we had to find a better way to track tips to major cases, and this prompted us to do it sooner than later,” Beckner said.

Within the past year, Beckner said, the department developed an automated database to help detectives record and track tips. Next to each, Beckner said, officers now attach a notation or “conclusion” to help them keep track of where the leads end up.

“We get hundreds and hundreds of tips, and it’s difficult to catalogue those,” he said.

Alcalde’s defense attorneys have asked a judge to impose sanctions on the prosecution for failing to act on the anonymous 2001 tip. Defense attorney Mary Claire Mulligan argued Monday that because so much time passed, Alcalde is handicapped in mounting an effective defense. For instance, she said, alternate suspects and witnesses have died.

“Anything that impairs a defendant’s ability to defense himself, that is prejudice,” Mulligan said.

Prosecutor Ryan Brackley, though, said there’s no evidence police would have been able to find and arrest Alcalde in connection with Chase’s killing, even if they had seen the tip. He added that the District Attorney’s Office had done nothing wrong.

“It’s a very big deal, but if there should be sanctions and punishment, that should be done at the police department,” Brackley said.

Police Chief Beckner said no one will be punished because the oversight was not intentional, and changes have been made.

Susannah Chase Case

Archived comments

What was the content of the tip narrative and from whom? Is that person dead or anonymous or what? Can’t the Camera either say or explain why they can’t. Why not wait and spend the ink on a comprehensive story?

HOW did that tip get into a pile of papers? Think we don’t know people make mistakes? Well, that is precisely how the culture remedies that. By being educated about the mistakes. Front and center, not lost in some obscure follow up piece.

Give examples of how the defense’s case could be compromised because of the the lost tip and the alternate suspects andwitnesses inavailability.


3/31/2009 1:25:43 AM

In reference to the content of the tip: Can’t the Camera either print it or explain why they can’t?


3/31/2009 1:50:22 AM

Large denominations and unmarked bills preferred, of course.


3/31/2009 8:21:01 AM

Here’s a tip. There are a bunch of drug addicts hanging out at the library, dealing and shooting up. They also like to frequent the starbucks bathroom on pearl street.

I don’t think all the tips in the world would help the boulder police.


3/31/2009 9:55:39 AM

Here’s a tip: The BPD is only good a traffic enforcement. Perhaps they should contract out their detective work to other agencies. Then they can spend more time nailing speeders– yeah!


3/31/2009 11:29:52 AM

Software and databases are simply tools that help you do what you already do, but better and more efficiently (when used correctly).They do not make you do things you don’t already do, like police work and processing leads.


3/31/2009 7:52:42 PM

Well said.


3/31/2009 10:12:34 PM