Investigation Discovery’s ‘Homicide Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda: Lockdown’ depicts how 73-year-old Luke Warren was brutally murdered inside his Las Animas Street residence in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in early December 1986. While the police initially suspected the wrong individual, they quickly corrected themselves and arrested the real perpetrator. If you’re interested in learning more about the case, including the killer’s identity, we’ve your back. Let’s begin then, shall we?
How Did Luke Warren Die?
Luke Warren was a lifetime coal miner in Kentucky and had recently moved to Colorado after he suffered from breathing and other medical issues. According to the episode, he was known as a pretty quiet guy who went to church and liked to play music. Hence, it was shocking when the Colorado Springs police department received a 911 call from Earl Warren at 9:45 pm on December 8, 1986. The frantic caller alleged he had found his father, Luke, stabbed inside his Las Animas Street residence in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The detectives found the 73-year-old lying on his back inside his kitchen with a knife in his lower spine to the handle. They rolled over the body to discover the perpetrator had punched and kicked Luke in the face. The crime reeked of anger, and the coroner confirmed the senior citizen had died from blunt force to his sternum and heart. The medical examiner further noted his ribs were broken, and the stab wound was probably done after Luke was dead or breathing his last.
Who Killed Luke Warren?
According to the episode, the Emergency Medical Team (EMS) arrived after the 911 call to find Luke’s body was still warm though he had expired. The first responders noticed a spot of blood on Earl’s sleeve, and they took him and his girlfriend, Lori, down to the station for questioning. Meanwhile, the investigators surveyed the crime scene, and the back door caught their eye. It seemed like someone had kicked in the lock assembly, causing the door to break. The flat with a single bedroom looked like it belonged to someone with little or no financial means.
The officers searched through the messy bedroom to find a bunch of financial papers on the table with a blood smear on the front page. It seemed like the perpetrator had messed up the room while searching for something — most probably money. After the coroner arrived at the crime scene, he informed the detectives the killer was left-handed based on the angle at which the knife was inserted. The police interviewed Lori at the station to learn she and Earl frequently checked on Luke because of his ailing health.
According to Lori, they had arrived around 9:30 pm at Luke’s door and rang the bell several times to no avail. Earl had a key, and they entered the apartment to find the body in the kitchen. She seemed to speak the truth, and the officers let the distressed women go. However, they suspected Earl since he had presented a conspicuous alibi in Lori — which seemed a little too convenient to the investigators. They decided to run a simple test to confirm their suspicions and asked him to fill out a witness interview form.
When Earl used his right hand to fill it out, the officers dismissed him as a suspect. He informed the police about how his father’s health had been recently been on the decline, and Luke was looking to move back to his native state. According to Earl, his father saved every penny from his social security checks, and his savings amounted to approximately $1,200-1,300. However, the victim did not believe in banks and always kept his money at home. The authorities had not found the cash at home and wondered whether it was a robbery gone wrong.
Earl also told the officers Luke seemed to be doing fine when he swung by his father’s place the week before while on a trip to Wyoming with Lori and her cousin, Mark Struthers. After the police let him go, Earl told them he would ask Mark to drop by the station. Meanwhile, the police learned the medical examiner had uncovered two separate blood types on Luke’s clothes, including his own. The new evidence indicated that the killer might have gotten hurt while killing the 73-year-old.
With no new lead, the police waited till Mark showed up at the station for questioning. The police immediately identified him as a suspect when they saw he was left-handed and had injuries on that hand. When asked about the wound, Mark claimed he got jumped by two black males while filling petrol in his girlfriend’s car at a gas station. However, he appeared nervous and stated he did not file any report about the alleged incident. The police arrested Mark after his blood sample matched the blood found on Luke’s clothes.
Where is Mark Struthers Now?
According to the episode, Mark and Luke were not well-acquainted, but the latter promised to loan Mark $1,000 to buy a truck. But Luke changed his mind when Mark showed up at his door on December 8, 1986. Angered by being turned down, Mark kicked down the door and tried to persuade Luke into loaning him the amount. However, he claimed Luke grabbed a kitchen knife and lurched at him, cutting Mark’s hand in the process. Concerned about his safety, Mark claimed he fought back and pinned Luke to the ground.
Angry with the onslaught, Mark declared he repeatedly kicked Luke in the face and chest region before he seemed to have gone limp. Mark took no chance and used the kitchen knife to stab him in the lower spine before ransacking the bedroom and fleeing with Luke’s lifetime savings. He pled guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 24 years. According to the episode, the authorities were unable to recover the stolen amount.