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Update: Neighbors react to 3 deaths in Cortez home; investigation continues

A family of was found dead Wednesday at 1609 Tucker Court in Cortez. Police said foul play is suspected, and there is no safety concern for the community. (Jim Mimiaga/The Journal)
Foul play suspected; family found dead in home on Tucker Court

The Cortez Police Department is investigating three deaths at 1609 Tucker Court in Cortez, according to Assistant Chief Andy Brock.

The bodies of two men and one woman were found Wednesday morning, Brock said, but the time of death was not known. All three were residents of the home, he said.

Foul play is suspected, Brock said, and the investigation continues. A firearm was present at the scene, but what type was not available.

Brock declined to comment about whether murder-suicide was suspected, citing the ongoing investigation. An incident report has not been released.

Patrol Lt. Rex Brinkerhoff emphasized there was no threat to the community.

“We have no safety concerns for anybody in the neighborhood or the city,” he said.

No suspects were being sought, and no charges have been filed, Brinkerhoff said.

Montezuma County Coroner George Deavers responded to the scene about 11 a.m. Wednesday and said it appeared the deaths occurred two to four days earlier.

Autopsies were ordered.

One man was identified as William A. Sanderson, 79, Deavers said. The autopsy determined the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.

The other two autopsies were conducted Thursday, but the results were not available, Deavers said. Police withheld their identities pending notification of next of kin.

The Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office and Colorado Bureau of Investigation assisted in the investigation.

Neighborhood reaction

On Friday, Cortez police said the incident remained under investigation, but released a few more details. Neighbors also spoke with The Journal.

Police responded to the residence Wednesday morning after a family member asked for a welfare check because they had not heard from the residents for a few days, Brinkerhoff said. The caller was not identified.

The Cortez Fire Protection District responded first because there was a concern of carbon monoxide danger in the residence. Firefighters determined it was safe to enter.

Police then entered and found the three bodies.

“Foul play is suspected and the investigation is ongoing,” Brinkerhoff said. “Forensic analysis is still being conducted.”

Two bodies were found in a bedroom, he said. The location of the third body was not revealed.

A firearm was found, Brinkerhoff said, but he would not say whether it was used in the deaths or whether the bodies had bullet wounds.

The three residents were part of an extended family. William Sanderson and the woman, in her 70s, were married, and the other man, her son, was in his 40s.

The Montezuma County Assessor’s site lists William and Ona Sanderson as the owners of the home at 1609 Tucker Court, where the deaths took place.

Brinkerhoff said autopsies of Sanderson and his wife have been completed. The son’s autopsy was conducted Friday.

Police said they had received no complaints from the residence, and the dead had no known criminal records.

Police canvassed the neighborhood Wednesday and interviewed neighbors. Brinkerhoff said nobody had negative comments about the residents.

“It’s a pretty quiet neighborhood,” he said.

Neighbors interviewed by The Journal expressed shock and sadness Friday.

Sanderson was a courteous and generous neighbor, said Donna Murphy, who lives across the street.

“He would bring our trash cans in when we were away, and gave us cucumbers from his garden,” she said. “We’re heartbroken.”

She said there was no sign of trouble at the home. The family had lived there since at least 2019. She said she heard no gunshots.

Other neighbors said nothing was out of the ordinary at the residence.

“It is shocking that there is loss of life two doors down and you don’t know about it until police show up,” said a woman who did not want to give her name.

Another neighbor, who declined to be identified, said Sanderson was a “good man” who was retired and took frequent walks around the neighborhood.

“He cared for his wife, who had medical problems. He walked the neighborhood and was a polite man to talk with. He left fresh vegetables at our door, brought in our trash cans when we were gone,” the neighbor said. “We’re all just shocked.”

They said they did not know the mother or son.

Residents said the neighborhood is quiet and there was not a lot of socializing, especially since the pandemic hit.

On Friday, two people working at the Sanderson home declined to comment.

This article will be updated as more information becomes available.