DENVER (CBS4) – CBS4 has learned that DNA lifted from a payphone mouthpiece and fingerprints on the phone are some of the key evidence that ties Evan Ebel to the murder of 27-year-old Nathan Leon, a father of three.
Denver police have long said they are “confident” that Ebel killed Leon March 17, but have never provided details of their investigation that connect Ebel to the murder. Now three law enforcement contacts familiar with the Leon killing have provided CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass with some of the clues linking Ebel to the shooting death of Leon.
The contacts say that Ebel initially called a Domino’s Pizza restaurant near 40th and Colorado Boulevard to have a pizza delivered, but that he wanted the delivery to an intersection, not a specific address. That’s apparently against the pizza company’s rules and they rejected Ebel’s initial delivery order.
Dominos has declined to discuss specifics of the Ebel case. Sources say there was then a second conversation between Ebel and the Domino’s restaurant, and in that second conversation he provided a street address near 50th and Forest Street and Leon was dispatched to the address, which is located in a desolate industrial section of North Denver.
The law enforcement sources say that investigators later determined that Ebel called the pizza restaurant from a payphone located at or near a truck stop in North Denver. Investigators traced the payphone call that had been made to Domino’s, determining it had originated from a specific payphone located at or near the truck stop in North Denver. The sources indicated the area had been under police surveillance due to criminal activity in the area, and they also obtained surveillance videotape showing Ebel on the phone, placing the pizza order.
Investigators were able to return to that specific phone and extract Ebel’s DNA and fingerprints from the phone. Since Ebel had been a Colorado prison inmate, they apparently already had samples of his DNA on file for comparison purposes, leading to the match.
Two of the law enforcement sources also say that police obtained videotape from numerous locations between Denver and Golden that shows Ebel’s vehicle traveling from Denver to Golden, which is where Leon was killed and his body was dumped. He had been shot twice. Law enforcement sources say Leon was alive during the drive from Denver to Golden and that Ebel murdered him after they arrived in Golden.Two days after the Leon murder, on March 19, authorities believe Ebel murdered Department of Corrections Director Tom Clements in El Paso County by going to Clements’ door dressed as a pizza delivery man.
On March 21 police in Texas killed Evan Ebel during a running gun battle.
Sources familiar with the case told CBS4 that based on the DNA and the fingerprints extracted from the Denver payphone, linking Ebel to the Leon murder, Denver police investigators knew within days that Ebel was the primary suspect in the murder of Leon.
Lt. Matt Murray declined to comment on the CBS4 report saying, “There are other ongoing investigations related to this matter and out of respect to those investigations, we’re not going to talk about this case.”
- Written by Brian Maass for CBSDenver.com