NewsNews5 Investigates


Despite grisly finding, CBI says Las Animas County coroner won't be charged

After two people were discovered buried together, Coroner Dominic Verquer fell under investigation by the CBI
Posted at 9:47 PM, May 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-02 00:10:40-04

LAS ANIMAS COUNTY, Colo. — The Colorado Bureau of Investigations says the Las Animas County coroner will not face any charges. Dominic Verquer was accused of burying homeless people in mass graves without the consent of at least one cemetery owner and pocketing the county money distributed to provide indigent people with a proper pine box burial.

After conducting 11 interviews and collecting 108 documents, photos and video evidence, the CBI said 3rd District Attorney Henry Solano could not find probable cause that Verquer committed a crime.

News 5 has been following this story for months following the exhumation of a homeless man last September. During that exhumation requested by his family members, crews discovered the man buried unceremoniously in a body bag, in the same grave as another person. That raised suspicions locally in Trinidad. Months later, due to public demands for an investigation, the Las Animas County Sheriff's Office referred the investigation to the CBI.

In the CBI's release, it states the burials of five homeless individuals were done legally as, "there was no next of kin, leaving the county with the responsibility for burial. The deaths occurred during the COVID pandemic period and given the limited space Coroner Verquer needed to arrange their burial."

The CBI's release also spoke to the concerning disappearance of Dave Shier who has been mysteriously missing for years. The CBI says that the speculation
he is one of those five people buried by Verquer is unfounded as he went missing long after the last burial.

"Contrary to claims, there was no misuse/misappropriation of public funds by him or that he lacked permission for the burials in the private cemetery," the release said.

However, News 5 spoke with the owner of the cemetery where Verquer's records show he buried five people and Carl Mestas said he never gave Verquer access or permission to bury anyone on this land.

We reached out to Dominic Verquer for comment and have not heard back. He was copied on the release sent out by the CBI around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. There is currently a recall taking place to remove him from the coroner position he's held for more than a decade.

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