A Denver man who fled to Mexico after the disappearance of his girlfriend in 1998 now faces murder charges in the 22-year-old cold case.
Crespin Nene-Perez, 57, is charged with first-degree murder and second-degree kidnapping, according to a news release from the Denver District Attorney’s Office. He was extradited last year to Denver from Mexico in connection with the disappearance and death of Bonny Baker. A preliminary hearing in the case was held Wednesday.
Baker, then 47, was last seen in June 1998 at a party with friends to celebrate a pay raise she had received at The Fort restaurant in Morrison. Her body was discovered on Navajo land the following year but it took another 14 years for those remains to be connected to Baker.
On June 30, 1998, a woman called 911 from a pay phone to report a woman had been killed in her apartment on West Louisiana Avenue. The caller said the suspect, Nene-Perez, was driving to Mexico with the woman’s body in the trunk and would dump the body somewhere along the way, according to a Denver Police Department arrest affidavit filed on April 4, 2013. The caller, who was not identified in the arrest affidavit, gave a description of a red vehicle and its Colorado license plate number.
On July 1, 1998, a red Geo Prism with the matching license plate number crashed near Globe, Arizona, but the driver fled. A witness identified Nene-Perez as the driver from a photo lineup, the affidavit said. Police impounded the car and collected blood evidence from its trunk.
On July 31, 1999, two boys riding horses on Navajo land outside Manuelita, New Mexico, discovered a human skull. Navajo Nation Tribal Police found more skeletal remains in the area. An autopsy failed to determine the identity and cause of death, and the remains were stored by the New Mexico Office of Medical Investigators, the affidavit said.
In October 2012, Denver police Detective Kenneth Klaus was assigned the cold case and called an FBI agent in New Mexico to discuss Baker’s disappearance. DNA samples from the skeleton were sent to Denver and matched known samples that had come from Baker, the affidavit said.
Baker and Nene-Perez met at The Fort and lived together. Nene-Perez was fired for missing work in May 1998.
But Baker had earned a raise in June 1998 for never calling in sick, and she was last seen celebrating at a friend’s trailer in Golden. A group drank and danced, but trouble started when Nene-Perez arrived, the affidavit said. Witnesses said he was angry Baker dancing with other people, and the couple eventually left together.
Baker’s last words to a friend were, “It would be better if I just go now or it would be worse,” according to the affidavit.
A woman who cleaned out Baker’s and Nene-Perez’s apartment after they disappeared, told the detective that broken glasses and plates covered the floor and the kitchen table was overturned, the affidavit said. The same woman later admitted that she was the person who called 911 the night Baker disappeared because she and neighbors had seen Nene-Perez and had noticed his car’s trunk was moving.
Nene-Perez told the woman that night, “I know that you don’t like Bonny. Something bad happened to us. You will never have to see Bonny again because I am going to make her disappear,” the affidavit said.
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