By Rick Sallinger

CANON CITY, Colo. (CBS4) – A Fremont County deputy has been placed on administrative leave after evidence linked to a 10-year-old unsolved murder case was found in a storage locker he had rented.

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The evidence was discovered by Rick Ratzlaff, who had bought the contents of the locker in Canon City.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“First I didn’t think it was that big until I started pulling out shell casings, a hatchet … and what really phased me was when I pulled out bloody clothes,” he told KKTV, the CBS television station in Colorado Springs.

The items are believed linked to the 2006 murder of 17-year-old Candace Hiltz.

Candace Hiltz (credit: CBS)

Candace Hiltz (credit: CBS)

Candace Hiltz (credit: CBS)

Candace Hiltz (credit: CBS)

By phone, CBS4 reached Hiltz’s mother, Dolores.

“To my belief, my daughter’s murder was a cover up by the Fremont County Sheriff’s Department,” she said.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

She added that the deputy who rented the locker where the evidence was found was the lead detective on the case.

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The storage locker where the items were found was rented by a current high-ranking sheriff’s office official.

Current Sheriff Jim Beicker said the Colorado Bureau of Investigation is now handling the case.

“We have placed Lt. Robert Dodd with the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office on routine administrative leave pending the outcome of that investigation,” Beicker said to reporters, adding that he was told by the CBI to catalogue the evidence and hold it after Ratzlaff had indicated he had found it after buying the contents of the locker.

It’s been more than a decade since Candace Hiltz was found shot to death, but even now her family is skeptical there can be justice.

Heather Hiltz is the sister-in-law of Candace.

“It still hurts just as bad. The pain doesn’t go away … it’s like an empty spot knowing that something happened to her and nothing has ever been done to prove who did it,” she said.

The victim’s mother, Delores, told CBS4 at the time of the murder evidence was left sitting around the house for days. She said whatever evidence has been found has been hopelessly contaminated.

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CBS4’s Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.