Maggie Long

It’s been almost two weeks since missing Platte Canyon High School student, Maggie Long, was found dead in her family home in Bailey. There had been a fire at the house Dec. 1, and Park County Sheriff’s Office, Platte Canyon Fire Protection District and the Elk Creek Fire Protection District were called to the scene.

Park County Undersheriff David Wohlers, in a statement released Saturday, Dec. 2, on the PCSO Facebook page, said, “On-scene investigation is wrapped up. Cause and origin of the fire is inconclusive … Still no sign of her, no body at the fire scene.”

The 11th Judicial District issued a gag order Monday, Dec. 4, to all involved agencies, and since that time, there has been little information released directly by law enforcement.

The gag order read in part:

“1) There is further investigation to be performed and the release of information in this case would affect the integrity of the investigation as stated in the Peoples Motion.

“2) This order prohibits the release of any information regarding the above captioned case by first responders, law enforcement, court personnel, the Coroner’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office and any persons employed by such agencies or associated with such agencies from releasing any information with regard to this case to any parties other than the investigating agencies.

“3) The Order will remain in place until such time as it is determined that the release of information would no longer affect the integrity of the on-going investigation.”

When the gag order was lifted, Sheriff Fred Wegener issued a press release Dec. 7, and it claimed Long’s body was found in the house.

“It comes with great sadness we report that human remains discovered in the burned home of the Long family have been positively identified as those of 17-year-old Maggie Long,” the press release said.

Wegener’s press release also indicated that a task force, comprised of “federal, state, and local law enforcement” had been formed to bring any individual involved in the Long homicide to justice.

The PCSO is treating the case as arson and a homicide.

The earlier statement by Wohlers and the statement by Sheriff Wegener seem to be at odds with each other. Currently there is no explanation offered by law enforcement as to why it was reported there was no body found at the house, and then, six days later, PCSO announces that Long’s body was found in the house.

As of this writing, no suspect has been named or arrested.

As previously reported in The Flume, law enforcement received a 911 call sometime after 6 p.m. the evening of Dec. 1. The caller claimed he/she was in the attic of the house and said there were people downstairs in the residence, arguing, throwing stuff around and trying to set the house on fire.

The person also reported that there was smoke coming into the attic. At 7:14, fire was told to “roll.”

There is an attic apartment in the house, which has its own private entrance. The Flume has the name of the person who was renting the attic apartment, but the newspaper has not been able to contact that person for any statement as of this writing.

A “be on the look-out” was broadcasted by the Denver Police Department, Thursday, Dec. 7, at 4:40 p.m. Numerous TV stations in Denver reported the contents of the BOLO. The Flume has an audio of the BOLO that was released and can confirm the language used in the BOLO.

“The BOLO is going to be for a late model 90s to 2000 light colored minivan, possibly driven by a white male in his 20s. Homicide occurred during an arson and the suspect driver may have some flash burns, as well as gasoline taken from the house, a large case, AK47, 2000 rounds of ammo of 7.62 and a 9mm Beretta. Please advise [that] the subject is considered armed and extremely dangerous.”

According to a statement made by Wohlers to reporter Sal Christ, first reported in the Canyon Courier, Dec. 8, “We did issue a BOLO, but it was not intended for public consumption,” said Undersheriff Dave Wohlers. “It was supposed to go out through a confidential law enforcement source. … I can’t confirm what [the news stations] are reporting – it’s really quite disruptive to our investigation. Because of the problems that has caused, we’re going to have to reconvene the task force and decide how information for a public clarification [on the BOLO] will be crafted.”

The confidential law enforcement source is known as Colorado Information Analysis Center, which is under the umbrella of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

Wohlers then went on to tell the Canyon Courier that the community was not in any danger.

“If we thought other people were in danger and there was somebody else identified, we would alert the community. Obviously, if somebody comes in contact with whoever is responsible, I’d call that more dangerous and more dangerous for law enforcement,” said Wohlers. “Again, if we thought the community was in immediate danger, we would alert the community to be on the lookout. We’re not in a position in the investigation yet to do that.”

Between the actual language of the BOLO and Wohlers’ statement, it’s difficult to understand if he was trying to say the BOLO was just not for public consumption, or if he is implying that the BOLO itself contained false information.

And in regards to the public safety issue, Wohlers’ comment does not conform to the BOLO that stated, “Please advise [that] the subject is considered armed and extremely dangerous.”

It appears that the Sheriff’s Office knew that there were guns in the house the night of the incident. At about 7:53 p.m., a deputy on the scene told dispatch that there were firearms in the house and some may be missing.

How did the deputy know that there were missing firearms? Did a witness at the scene tell the deputy that weapons had been taken? If the PCSO knew that guns were missing that early on, why would they imply that the community was not in danger?

In a phone call from 9News to The Flume Dec. 4, Shaun Griswold said that some family members were staying at a residence owned by San Long on West Virginia Avenue in Denver. Griswold said, “the family members there weren’t friendly at all, and they said they had a protection order against the media so that [we] had to leave.”

In a phone call with Wohlers with The Flume, Wohlers could only say that all agencies involved are working the case diligently.

“Our federal, state and local law enforcement have come together in a task force,” Wohlers said. “The officers in the task force are committed to solving this crime, and we will solve it.”

Wohlers could offer no other information at this time.

Anyone who may have information about Long is asked to contact the PCSO at 719-836-2494.

(The information in this article was current as of Wednesday morning, Dec. 13. Since this is an on-going story, updates will be posted to The Flume’s website at www.theflume.com and the newspaper’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/TheFlume/.)

(1) comment

Gary Rauchenecker

I understand that the media and law enforcement have a working relationship. Some may even call it a duty, and for them to ignore that would/could be damaging to everyone's integrity. However, it seems there is a more than unusual amount of ambiguity and confusion surrounding the communications (i.e., BOLO), facts and/or circumstances, that accountability may be coming into play. One can argue that the gag order on this case is more a matter of convenience than to protect the investigation. I urge those in charge, namely the Park County District Attorney's office, to review and evaluate all related events, communications, processes, and developments to-date and make a serious determination that this case is being conducted appropriately. Furthermore, report back primarily to county residents, but also to the general public. Thank you.

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