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Daughter of missing Trinidad man reacts to CBI investigating coroner

Posted at 7:01 PM, Dec 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-15 21:38:47-05

The daughter of a missing Southern Colorado man is reacting to word the CBI is investigating the Las Animas County coroner. Coroner Dominic Verquer is accused of secretly burying homeless people without the cemetery owners' knowledge in unmarked graves and then keeping state subsidies to fund their burials.

The CBI announced it joined the investigation on Thursday, December 14.

Morgan Shier has been living in uncertainty for nearly a year, wondering what happened to her father Dave Shier who disappeared near Starkville Cemetery in February.

"I think he either witnessed something that he was not supposed to see and got caught up in that. That is what my gut is telling me," Shier said.

She fears he is buried in an unmarked grave at the Starkville Cemetary outside Trinidad. It's 1.5 miles from his shop and Shier enjoyed going on walks nearby.

Hiking up the rural road into the cemetery, Tom Murphy points out where he saw a Denver-area funeral director exhume the body of a missing man, later identified as Frederick Huff. Inside the same grave, with no dirt between them, Murphy says, was another body of a still unidentified person. Murphy wants to know if it's Morgan Shier's father.

"I've been around this business my whole life and it's just wrong. You just don't do this," Murphy said.

Last week at a county commissioner's meeting, Murphy accused Coroner Dominic Verquer of burying homeless people in the rural cemetery without the knowledge of their families and without valid burial certificates. In Colorado, it is illegal to bury two people together unless family permission is granted.

Sheir said a week after informing the county there is at least one unidentified person who was sharing a grave and seeing no action, she told the Sherif's department she planned to file a complaint unless they began an investigation. The CBI confirms it got a request from the Las Animas County Sheriff's Office to assist in the investigation Wednesday and it agreed.

"I am fully committed to... if it's not my dad seeing this through to find out who these individuals are and to make sure their families are notified and that they get the treatment that they deserve," Sheir said.

Verquer has not responded to multiple requests for comment and was not at his office when a News 5 crew attempted to reach him during business hours.