Investigation Discovery’s ‘Homicide Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda: Night Terrors’ depicts how 22-year-old Philip Titus was murdered during a late-night party inside a Colorado Springs, Colorado, tattoo shop in early October 1994. While the crime had several witnesses, none were ready to cooperate with the authorities. The episode features interviews with the investigators involved in the homicide investigation. If you’re interested in how the police solved the case and apprehended the killer, we’ve your back. Let’s dive in then, shall we?
How Did Philip Titus Die?
On October 4, 1994, Colorado Springs police officer Robert Beakler patrolled the graveyard shift around 3:12 am on the west side of Colorado Springs, Colorado. With everything closed for a while, there was peace in the neighborhood when the patrol car was approached by a screaming and crying young woman. She waved her arms around for the officer’s attention and beckoned him to follow her. Officer Beakler followed the frantic woman to find two young men fighting on the street.
The police officer barged between the two fighting men, ordering them on the ground, as he requested for backup on his radio. His attention went toward a male victim lying dead on the floor in a pool of blood in front of a nearby shop. When the homicide victims arrived at the crime scene, they learned the deceased was 22-year-old Philip Titus, a young tattoo artist. He had a blood-soaked towel wrapped around his head, and his eyes were open, which indicated an instantaneous death. He had a single gunshot wound to his forehead.
Who Killed Philip Titus?
The investigators noted the bullet hole was star-shaped — a common occurrence in person-impact wounds. The show explained that when a bullet is fired, the general energy expended from the muzzle will cause a five-point star fracture of the bone. They lifted Philip’s shirt but found no body ink that pegged him as a local gang member. The officers lifted the body to find an expended slug — a .38-caliber pistol round — underneath his left shoulder. They searched the room for the murder weapon and found it on a nearby table.
The firearm still had some grey matter in the barrel area, confirming it was used to commit the murder. The officers looked around the shop to find a coffee table filled with tattoo needles and various color bottles of tattoo ink. After securing both the weapon and the body, the police spoke with the huddling tattoo artists and others gathered around the crime scene. However, none of the witnesses were ready to talk, except for David Pinello and Jeffrey “Jeff” Walter — the two men detained for fighting.
David was the tenant and was reluctant to sign a waiver to allow the police to search the premises. Before questioning David and Jeff, the officers talked with the woman, Cindy Davis, who explained it was a gathering of tattoo artists inking each other. They also discussed techniques, styles, and new pieces of equipment and about their business in general. However, she claimed Philip and his best friend, David, started playfighting, with the former pushing the latter, which knocked down Jeff’s tattoo bottles and needles.
However, Cindy refused to divulge who shot the victim but looked at David sitting in a police car. When the officers approached David, he seemed distressed but stated he had nothing to do with the crime. The police pressed him on his refusal to permit them to search the premises, and he claimed he had brought a gun on the streets and did not want the detectives to lay their hands on it. With the murder weapon belonging to him, David seemed the prime suspect in the murder until he pointed his fingers at Jeff.
He claimed he and Philip were mock fighting between themselves when the latter pushed him hard, which knocked down Jeff’s equipment and caused an error in the tattoo he was drawing. According to David, Jeff was too pissed with their roughhousing, and he started cussing Philip before bringing out David’s gun. Jeff allegedly brought out one of the live bullets, pointed it at Philip’s forehead, and reportedly stated he had fifty-fifty chances of survival. When he pulled the trigger, a gunshot rang out, and Philip was dead before others could react.
Where is Jeffrey Walter Now?
The police could not understand why Jeff would get so upset about his tattoo equipment — worth around $40 — getting knocked over. They arrested him on murder charges and brought him to the station for further questioning. Jeff immediately confessed, claiming he had been working on a beautiful and delicate tattoo piece for a long time. He stated he had been doing the fine detailing when Philip pushed David and caused an indelible error in his otherwise perfect work of art.
Jeff claimed he got the gun but never intended to kill Philip. However, the latter kept on provoking him, and they were all too drunk, and the alcohol and rage made him pull the trigger. He also admitted he had contempt brewing toward Philip for months since the latter allegedly copied all his art pieces. Jeff pled guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 26 years. Now in his late 40s, Jeff has completed his sentence and is presumed to be living in Colorado Springs again after being discharged from prison.