Deputy Robert Dodd’s Murderous Conflict of Interest
February 28, 2017 (Fault Lines) – On August 15, 2006, 17-year-old single mother Candace Hiltz was found dead, shot five times in the back with a small-caliber pistol, once in the chest with a medium-caliber pistol, and once in the chest with a shotgun. The crime was never solved, although police suspected Candace’s brother, James, of the crime. But in December of 2016, a storage unit rented by Fremont County Sheriff’s (FCSO) Lieutenant Robert Dodd was auctioned off for nonpayment of rent. In that unit was a bunch of evidence relating to the murder. In envelopes marked “Evidence.” Being hidden away by a deputy who shouldn’t have been involved with the case at all.
You see, Dodd was a potential suspect in the murder. Five days before the murder, Dodd had come to where Candace was living to question James about a trespassing case. Candace, upset at how Dodd was acting, yelled at Dodd, who told her to shut up or go to jail. Candace called his bluff, telling him to arrest her and that she had seen him accepting envelopes from drug dealers. Three days later, the family found their dog dead in the woods nearby. It was killed with an axe.
Candace wasn’t a stupid girl. At 17, she was just about to graduate from Brigham Young University. She wanted to become a lawyer and hoped to attend Stanford Law and be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court one day. Instead, she was found shot to death, wrapped in a blanket under a bed in the house.
The investigation was for crap. After the detectives left, Candace’s mother went through the house and found all sorts of evidence that had been left behind. She boxed up the evidence, a spent shotgun shell, empty shell casings, the blanket Candace was wrapped in, a bloodstained computer monitor, a bloody shirt, and towels apparently used by the killers. She then took it to the Sheriff’s Office. At some point, Dodd got a hold of it, and it ended up in his storage unit.
The guy that bought the contents of the unit at auction, Rick Ratzlaff, found envelopes marked “evidence” containing bloodstained rope and clothing, an axe, and other material. Dodd heard about this, contacted Ratzlaff and offered to buy the items from him. Ratzlaff refused, notified the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and then either called the sheriff or was contacted by the sheriff. The sheriff, Jim Beicker came out and told Ratzlaff that he could get killed over something like this.
Now, of course, Beicker isn’t commenting on the matter, noting that it is being investigated by the CBI.
You see, immediately after Candace’s murder, the FCSO focused on her brother James as the suspect, but without addressing how she was shot by three different weapons by two or more people. James wasn’t capable of shooting Candace in the chest and the back of the head at the same time, and his mental illness made it difficult to believe he’d plan the killing with others.
An outside agency absolutely needs to look at this, along with several other issues.
- Why wasn’t the evidence at the crime scene collected properly? This is basic law enforcement; it’s not hard to do.
- Why did Dodd, a person who could have a motive to do harm to Candace, have any access to the evidence collected in the case?
- Why wasn’t the missing evidence noticed? What procedures does the FCSO have to ensure the safeguarding of evidence?
- Does the FCSO have procedures to limit access to the property and evidence room?
- Why wasn’t the CBI or another agency brought in to begin with? In Texas, the Rangers are more than happy to help out, and they don’t normally leave evidence at the crime scene.
These are just some of the questions that Sheriff Beicker needs to answer. It happened under his watch, with one of his command staff. The handling of the evidence alone is enough to make me question his leadership, because now the prosecutor has to inform each and every defense attorney about the problem with property and evidence at FCSO.
This is a problem. One that needs to be fixed.
 James has a mental illness that makes him paranoid around other people. There’s no realistic way he could have committed the offense with others. James is currently in the Colorado Mental Health Institute after being found not guilty by reason of insanity on an unrelated burglary.
 A second lieutenant has also been suspended with pay pending investigation, for allegedly having an intimate relationship with a high school student almost 20 years ago, in 1999.