Woman's decomposing body found in Denver apartment; husband, dog sitting nearby
DENVER - Officers responding to complaints of a foul smell in a south Denver apartment building made a gruesome yet bizarre discovery earlier this month -- the decomposing body of a woman with her husband and dog sitting nearby.
Denver police were called to an apartment building at 1240 South Birch after neighbors complained about the smell.
According to a search warrant affidavit obtained by 7NEWS, police entered the apartment using the manager's key and were immediately confronted by a Great Dane in the hallway.
The officers also saw a man slumped in a chair blocking the doorway entrance to the living room, the affidavit said.
One of the officers told the dog to "leave" and the dog "then turned and jumped on to the couch where officers observed an obvious deceased [woman] slumped on the couch," the affidavit said.
When they asked the man how long the woman had been dead, he replied, "She's not dead. She's fine," according to the affidavit. The man appeared to be either intoxicated or "out of sorts," the affidavit said.
The deceased woman has been identified as 32-year-old Michaela Beth Ford. The man was identified as her husband, Steven Ford.
Police said the dog "Lola" was "guarding" the woman's body, and as a detective approached "the dog became agitated and began barking," the affidavit said. Officers called animal control, who removed the dog from the apartment.
You can read the full affidavit here . Warning some content is graphic.
Neighbors said they wondered what was up when they noticed a bad smell coming from Apt. 308.
"The hallway kind of started to smell weird, but it's like, you live in an apartment building. A million different people live around here," neighbor Andrew Cosgrove said.
Police said the woman appeared to have been dead more than 10 days and her body was in an advanced state of decomposition.
A maintenance manager said he saw the husband coming and going during the previous two weeks, going to the liquor store, but had not seen the wife.
According to the affidavit, neighbors interviewed by police said the couple had "numerous domestic violence incidents."
Police noted there was a large hole in the drywall of the living room, dried blood on the floor and an over-turned television in the bedroom.
Ford has not been charged and police are apparently continuing their investigation, although they had no comment on the case on Sunday.
New Details From Family Members
Family members say they have no idea what happened in the apartment on South Birch Street, but did say they don't believe Steven is responsible for Michaela's death.
"Steven has some issues," said his brother, Eldon Ford. "He was in a bad car accident in January (2011) and suffered a serious brain injury."
Eldon said the accident left Steven susceptible to seizures.
According to the Hutchinson News, Steven Ford was traveling southbound on U.S. 61 near Pratt, Kansas when his pickup truck went off the road. He overcorrected. The pickup rolled and Ford was ejected.
Eldon Ford said Steven spent two months in a hospital and then two months recuperating at their mother's house.
He said Steven then decided he needed to get back to Colorado.
"He's got some issues," Eldon said. "Steve's been unemployed for years. We tried to get ahold of him in late September, but he wouldn't answer the phone."
Eldon said they got a phone call in early October from an investigator who said that Steven was being held by authorities.
"I decided to call Denver Health," Eldon said. "I was told he was there, but they couldn't discuss it because he was in custody."
Eldon said he was told that preliminary autopsy results didn't show a link between Michaela's death and anything Steven did.
"She had pancreatitis," Eldon said. "And both she and Steven drank."
He said he suspects that Michaela died from that and that "Steven freaked out."
The Denver Coroner's Office said they're still awaiting the toxicology report to determine the cause of death.
Denver police say they're awaiting the Coroner's report before deciding their next move.
Eldon said that Steven was arrested the day the body was found and was taken to Denver Health.
"He was released to a rehab center, but had another seizure this morning," Eldon said. "So he was taken back to Denver Health."