Small Colorado town rattled by mysterious murder

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GREELEY, Colo. — Five of the six suspects accused of orchestrating a murder in rural Weld County will appear in court on Wednesday for the first time. The sixth suspect was arrested in South Dakota and is being extradited to Colorado.

The suspects were charged with suspicion of first-degree murder. They include: Daniel Meyer, 36, Chad Iler, 18, Michael Vassil, 23, Scott Hanchett, 21, and Karly Hanchett, 18. The sixth suspect, Crystal Griffin, 37, was arrested on suspicion of being an accessory to murder.

Investigators believe the suspects are responsible for the disappearance and death of Tera Lewandowski, 34. She was last seen at her home on Third Street in Pierce at the end of September.

“Anytime we have a young woman who goes missing, who obviously has a family, it rocks the core of the small communities we’re dealing with,” Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke said.

Rourke said he can’t recall a murder investigation in Pierce in the 10 years he has been in Weld County. As of Tuesday, investigators wouldn’t say whether they’ve found Lewandowski’s body. But they said they have enough evidence to charge the suspects.

“We take all the information we’ve [received] from law enforcement during the course of the investigation and we do an analysis to determine whether we have what we believe to be sufficient evidence to meet our ethical standards,” Rourke said.

Wednesday’s court appearance will produce one of two things: A date for a preliminary hearing or a decision to delay a preliminary hearing.

More information on the case is expected to be released later in the week.

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