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Investigator: Elmgreen confessed to killing father

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Judge finds probable cause at preliminary hearing

By Sandy Barnes

During a preliminary hearing in Jefferson County Court on Nov. 30, a homicide investigator testified that defendant Kenneth Elmgreen admitted to killing his elderly father and then attempting suicide.

Evergreen resident Elmgreen, 53, was arrested in early August on charges of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree arson and two counts of crimes of violence.

Last Friday, Jeffco sheriff’s Investigator Kathleen Battan testified that Elmgreen said he used a pillow to smother Kenneth Arthur Elmgreen, 91, and considered burning the home in which they lived.

After hearing evidence and the autopsy report indicating that the cause of death was asphyxiation secondary to smothering, Judge Jane Tidball ruled that probable cause exists on the counts of murder and attempted arson. Tidball also denied bail to Elmgreen.

Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies discovered the father’s body while serving Kenneth Elmgreen an arrest warrant on July 26 for failure to appear on a charge of fraud.

When the deputies arrived at the Elmgreen home on Ridge Road near Brookvale, they looked through a window and saw what they believed was blood on the floor and cuts on the defendant’s arms and legs, said Battan.

Deputies found the body of the elder Elmgreen in a bedroom.

“Ken subsequently told deputies that his father hadn’t been feeling well and had died,” she said.

Kenneth Elmgreen was taken to St. Anthony Hospital in Denver for treatment. While he was there, Battan said, she questioned him twice.

Battan said that initially Elmgreen told her that when he realized his father was cold to the touch, he gave him CPR. Elmgreen also told Battan that he began cutting himself, she said. Later, Elmgreen changed his story, Battan said, saying he talked about being at his “wit’s end” with the care of his father, who was paralyzed on his left side and unable to move on his own.

During the second interview, Elmgreen said he took a pillow and placed it over his father’s head, Battan testified. After hearing his statement, Battan said she called her supervisor and asked that deputies be sent to the hospital. She said she took Elmgreen into custody and read him his rights. He was later placed in the Jefferson County jail without bond.

Elmgreen also said he had given serious consideration to burning down the house but had decided against it because of the fire ban due to drought conditions, Battan testified.

Battan said she saw a gasoline container and oily papers in the younger Elmgreen’s bedroom, and that she also found a Bic lighter and a smoke alarm with a battery removed.

Elmgreen said he was considering burning the home to prevent a person he owed money from taking it.

Battan said Kenneth Elmgreen had been found guilty of fraud by check after he gave $60,000 in earnest money for the purchase of a home. Among judgments rendered against Elmgreen was foreclosure of his father’s house.

Attorney Sean Clifford of the Jefferson County district attorney’s office is prosecuting the case with co-counselor Doug Cohen. Attorney Jeff Gillio is representing Elmwood with co-counselor Ann Knickerbocker.

Contact reporter Sandy Barnes at sandy@evergreenco.com or call 303-350-1042.