By Eric Heinz
The Denver Police Department (DPD) announced June 22 that the reward for information related to the double murder April 24 of two American Elm restaurant employees has been raised from $5,000 to $25,000, but they did not provide any additional details related to the incident.
“To this day, the department continues to devote significant investigative resources to the case, as we do with every unresolved homicide,” said Matt Clark, a commander in the DPD major crimes unit. “Investigators assigned to this case are diligently working to identify and apprehend the individual or individuals responsible for the deaths of everyone.”
The victims, Emerall Vaughn-Dahler, 34, and Ignacio “Nacho” Gutierrez Morales, 58, were shot to death at the restaurant at 4132 W. 38th Ave. on April 24.
Denver Police Chief Ron Thomas said investigators have pinned the time of the murders between 10 a.m. and noon the day the incident took place. DPD said they are still looking through footage to see if they can identify a suspect, but they have not seen any so far. Police also said they have not determined a motive for the murders.
“At this point, we have not identified the individual or individuals responsible for these deaths,” Clark said. “This is a challenging and complex investigation. We’re getting tips. We’ve reviewed and are gathering surveillance video. We’re analyzing forensic evidence.”
Denver Metro Crime Stoppers is a nonprofit organization that works with police to obtain information on serious crimes.
“This is such a tragic event, and we have overwhelming support from the entire community, which allowed us to increase this reward,” said Dan Goracke, the vice president of Denver Metro Crime Stoppers. “As with most of the cases, someone has information that will hopefully help law enforcement close this case and give answers to these two families. There is no piece of information that is too small. Anyone who has information, please contact our hotline.”
Andrew Dhaler, the husband of Emerall Vaughn-Dahler, spoke during the press conference.
“These last two months have been some of the toughest I’ve ever had to deal with,” Dahler said. “To look at that photo and just know that she’s not gonna be here ever, it’s really hard. But I know with the support of my family friends in this community we can find out who did this and why. That’s what we’re looking for today. We’re looking for justice.”
Danica Woolard, the sister of Emerall, also spoke during the press conference.
“The last few months have been a nightmare,” Woolard said. “All I want is for my sister’s murder and Ignacio’s murder to be solved. And for whoever did this to pay for it. So if anybody has any information, no matter what, even if you don’t think it’s significant, please come forward.”
As previously reported in The Denver North Star, a silent auction and fundraiser at Hops & Pie restaurant raised at least $35,000. A GoFundMe page, which had a goal of raising $100,000, has exceeded $150,000.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Metro Denver Crime Stoppers at 720-913-7867 or online at metrodenvercrimestoppers.com.