A Colorado man who spent more than three weeks in jail on murder and other charges has been cleared after the El Paso County Coroner's Office uncovered evidence that the girlfriend he was accused of strangling had actually hanged herself.
Miles Kirby, a 29-year-old from the City of Fountain, told investigators on July 27 that he'd found his girlfriend, Joslyn Teetzel, hanging from a beam in their backyard shed.
But they accused him of staging the scene, arrested him and charged him with a half-dozen crimes, including first-degree murder, tampering with human remains and destroying evidence, court records show.
"Joslyn’s death was tragic and unnecessary, and the members of the Fountain Police Department are extremely saddened that another family must experience the never-ending pain that comes from losing someone you love," police said in a statement on July 27. "Our detectives will continue to work hard to ensure justice is served and Mr. Kirby is held accountable for his actions. Unfortunately, domestic violence is extremely prevalent and often the pattern of abuse turns deadly."
Kirby eventually posted $100,000 bond on Aug. 18 and was ordered to stay away from the children that he shared with Teetzel. Then on Monday, one week after a forensic pathologist ruled Teetzel's death a suicide by hanging, the case against him was dismissed.
"The initial history, scene investigative findings, available video surveillance footage, and injuries observed on postmortem examination strongly suggested homicide due to strangulation," Dr. Jarod Murdoch wrote in the autopsy. "However, after receipt and subsequent review of additional history and investigative information after the autopsy to include interview recordings indicating how the rope was wrapped around the neck before being subsequently unwrapped and untied by the decedent's significant other, accounting for the severity of injuries observed at autopsy, direct video evidence of the decent going to her shed alone before being found the following morning, and first responder documentation of the condition of the body indicating that death had occurred during the interval after she was observed entering her shed alone and prior to being found by her significant other, it is my final opinion that this was intentional and self-inflicted."
The cause and manner of her death, he added, were hanging and suicide.
"If the Fountain Police Department just did the minimal amount of investigation before charging someone with first-degree murder, they would have found out that this was a suicide," Kirby's lawyer, Daniel Kay, said at a news briefing broadcast by the Colorado Springs-based KKTV.
In addition to video evidence the coroner's office recovered that showed Teetzel going to the shed alone hours before her boyfriend went in the following morning, there was other evidence that she was suicidal, Kay said: journals, a prior hospitalization and a prior attempt.
"So there was a wealth of information, if they just would've investigated the case and not rushed to the conclusion that Miles was guilty," he added.
Kay did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News Digital.
Police declined to comment Wednesday but said the case remained an open one.
"This is still an active ongoing investigation," Fountain police spokeswoman Lisa Schneider told Fox News Digital Wednesday. "It would not be appropriate for us to discuss facts of the case so we will not be releasing any further statements at this point."
In an interview Tuesday with FOX 21 News Colorado, Teetzel's family alleged that Kirby abused her and suggested that may have driven her toward suicide.
"He told her, ‘Go kill yourself, or I will do it for you,'" Teetzel’s 10-year-old daughter told the station.
If you or a loved one is feeling distressed, call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lineline for free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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