Steamboat Springs Max Knight, 30, a longtime local resident and cook at Mambo Italiano, was found dead in a tent near the State Bridge Lodge on Monday morning.
Eagle County authorities were investigating the case as a homicide and even arrested a co-worker of Knight's -- 26-year-old Christopher Mack -- on suspicion of second-degree murder. However, Eagle County Coroner Kara Bettis said a preliminary autopsy Tuesday morning indicated Knight's death was not a homicide.
Mack turned himself in to Eagle County authorities on Monday, and indicated to police he had strangled Knight. He remained in jail Tuesday afternoon on $50,000 bond.
The coroner's office is waiting for toxicology reports to come back. But Bettis said strangulation has been ruled out and that so far, the autopsy does not indicate a homicide.
Further investigation will be needed before determining the cause or manner of death, which could be accidental, natural or homicide. Bettis said the coroner's office has ruled out suicide.
Toxicology reports are expected to be completed by the end of the week. Drugs were not found on the scene, but there was drinking at the campsite that night, Bettis said. Toxicology reports are done for any autopsy.
Bettis estimated that Knight died between 11 p.m. Sunday and 1 a.m. Monday
Knight and Mack had gone to a Sunday concert by the Steve Kimock Band at the State Bridge Lodge together and planned to camp overnight afterward.
The news of Knight's death left friends and coworkers reeling.
One coworker, who did not want to be indentified, called Knight an "awesome"person and said people were still in shock.
Sarah Stoedter, general manager at the Cantina, where Knight worked for eight years, remembered him as a dedicated friend and employee who loved touring to listen to bands in his free time.
"We will definitely miss him," she said.
On Monday morning, Eagle County authorities found Knight's body when responding to an 8:25 a.m. report of a dead man in a tent. The body was found in a tent at an unofficial Bureau of Land Management campground near the State Bridge Lodge, Eagle County Sheriff's Detective Mike McWilliam said Monday.
"It's a suspicious death we're treating as a homicide," said McWilliam, one of the detectives at the scene. He said the sheriff's office treats every death as a homicide until proven otherwise.
Maury Handler of Denver, who also stayed at State Bridge Sunday night, said he had heard five different stories of what happened.
"We woke up and people were talking about it," said Handler. "I heard there was a fight and somebody was strangled."
Greg Conway, the owner of State Bridge Lodge, said he was shocked when he found out about the death.
"What happened is a tragedy," Conway said. "Our biggest concern at State Bridge is safety. We have been working hard to make it an area where people can enjoy themselves."