Steamboat Springs A man arrested on suspicion of killing Steamboat Springs resident Lori Bases allegedly used a stun gun in his attack and planned to make it look as if an ex-boyfriend had raped her.
Police stated in an arrest warrant that Thomas Lee Johnson, 29, admitted to his ex-wife that he planned to hurt Bases "badly" when he went to her apartment on May 11. The warrant does not elaborate on how that alleged plan resulted in Bases' death.
The 31-year-old woman was found by her roommate lying in a pool of blood on May 12 with multiple stab wounds to her body and neck.
Johnson appeared in Routt County Court Monday morning to be advised of the charges against him. He was quiet and kept his handcuffed hands on his lap as Judge James Garrecht announced the charges of first-degree murder and two counts of criminal mischief.
First-degree murder is defined as the deliberate and premeditated killing of a human being. The two criminal mischief counts that Johnson faces relate to two April incidents in which Bases' vehicle was vandalized.
The courtroom was empty except for court employees and the media, possibly because the hearing was held earlier than originally scheduled to accommodate the schedule of Public Defender Norm Townsend, Johnson's lawyer.
After Monday's hearing, Johnson shook Townsend's hand and stood by a window in the courthouse, staring silently outside.
Johnson is scheduled to appear at 1 p.m. Wednesday in County Court for a bond hearing.
During the investigation into Bases' death, police focused on Johnson and interviewed his ex-wife, Michelle Linnebur, at her home in Byers on Friday. Johnson and Linnebur were divorced in Boulder County in 1996, according to court documents.
According to the arrest warrant, Steamboat Springs police Capt. Rick Crotz was interviewing Linnebur Friday when a man she said was Johnson called her. Crotz monitored the phone call, during which the man allegedly admitted killing Bases. Johnson was arrested in Steamboat Springs later that same day.
"Later in the telephone conversation he stated that in his planning of the crime he brought with him KY jelly and condoms to stage a rape and make it look like it was committed by one of Lori Bases' ex-boyfriends," the arrest warrant states.
Johnson also allegedly told Linnebur that he used a stun gun in the attack.
When contacted by Steamboat Today Monday, Linnebur said she didn't want to comment on the case. Johnson's father also declined to make a statement.
As part of his arrest, Johnson was ordered not to contact his ex-wife or a 29-year-old woman listed as his spouse, Kimberly Goodwin-Johnson. Johnson and Goodwin married in Las Vegas on May 28, according to a county clerk in Clark County, Nev.
Goodwin, who lived in Longmont, was friends with Bases and stayed with her on April 8, the night before Bases reported to police that her vehicle had been vandalized.
Police spoke with Johnson's brother, who reportedly said Johnson admitted to vandalizing Bases' vehicle in April.
Goodwin could not be reached for comment. Her last known phone number in Orange Vale, Calif., has been disconnected.
An arrest warrant for Johnson states that police learned that he had rented a car from Enterprise Rent A Car in Wheatridge on May 11 and returned it on May 12. The car was driven approximately 400 miles, according to the arrest warrant. The distance from Wheatridge to Steamboat Springs is approximately 150 miles.
Police believe Johnson went to Bases' apartment intending to kill her. Police are not saying what they think the motive was, and Director of Public Safety J.D. Hays said the suspected motive might not be released until the case goes to trial.
Johnson was interviewed by police the day after the murder and then he apparently left town. He had been living near Sacramento, Calif., for the last two weeks.
Johnson was stopped on foot by police at 7:45 p.m. Friday near the intersection of U.S. 40 and Mount Werner Road after getting off a Greyhound bus at Wendy's restaurant. Hays said police knew Johnson was coming to Steamboat because they had been keeping tabs on him in California.
Hays said he had no idea why Johnson came to town.
Police have not determined what weapon Johnson allegedly used to kill Bases. Hays said several items were taken from her apartment to be processed by the laboratory at the Colorado Bureau of Investigation in Denver. He said it may be months before results are known.
To reach Michelle Bales call 871-4208 or e-mail email@example.com