WELD COUNTY, Colo. -- A young woman is furious after she said the Fort Lupton Police Department lost the evidence in a sex crime case.
The missing piece of evidence is the video that allegedly showed the crime of a teenage employee being watched while she went to the bathroom.
The Weld County district attorney refused to talk to FOX31 Denver about the lost evidence and dropping the charges against the alleged perpetrator, David Maddox.
But the girl in the video and the woman who found it have plenty to say about Fort Lupton police, Maddox and the suspect’s effort to make the case disappear.
Brooke Vasquez, 20, has the most obvious question to the most disturbing circumstance.
“How do you lose evidence? You’re not supposed to take that outside of the building. I don’t understand what could happen with that," she said.
Three years ago, Vasquez was working at Little Caesars Pizza in Fort Lupton. The then-17-year-old had no idea she had been videotaped while using the employee restroom.
“You can clearly tell it was me in the video because of the rosary tattoo that I have and you couldn’t see my face, but you can tell it was me," Vasquez said.
Tracy Enney is Vasquez's former manager at Little Caesars. Last year, while going through the work computer, she discovered a video file she said only one person could have downloaded, her brother-in-law Maddox, who is also the owner of the Little Caesars Pizza.
“There’s a male arm in the video and the only person that would have access to download any type of video on our work computers would be the other owner," said Enney, who added she heard Maddox’s voice on the video.
Enney made a copy of the video and gave it to Fort Lupton police, which arrested Maddox in June for invasion of privacy and exploitation of a minor. Detectives took photos of Maddox’s arms and hand to compare to still shots of the video where a man’s arm is seen by the toilet.
According to Fort Lupton police reports, Maddox admitted deleting four videos from the memory of his work computer before detectives were able to do a forensic examination of the computer hard drive.
A few months later, a detective called Enney.
“Asked me if I had another copy of the video and I asked her why and she said well we can’t seem to find it,” an incredulous Enney said.
Vasquez said no one called her to say the video had been lost. She found out at a court hearing.
“It seems like they don’t care, they’re not sorry,” Vasquez said.
A court document dated Oct. 14 reads “Fort Lupton Police Department still trying to find video.” A few weeks later, Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke dismissed the case, though he declined to discuss why with FOX31 Denver.
Fort Lupton police Chief Kenneth Poncelow also declined repeated attempts for an interview, but eventually released a statement.
“The Fort Lupton Police Department conducted an internal investigation and has modified its procedures as a result of the unfortunate circumstances in this case," the statement read.
Vasquez got a different response when she went looking for answers.
“I talked to one of their sergeants and he denied me to speak to the chief, saying he would tell him himself and he was smiling at me when he was telling me, well we’re so sorry and there’s nothing we can do about it," she said.
An employee at Little Caesars put Maddox on the phone when FOX31 Denver went looking for him.
“Why was there a camera secretly recording Brooke Vasquez in the employee bathroom?” he was asked.
“I have no clue," Maddox responded.
FOX31 Denver: “Why did you erase the hard drive off of your computer?”
Maddox: “I didn’t. You need to talk to my attorney,” before hanging up.
Maddox refused an on-camera interview but later sent a statement.
“Evidence clearly demonstrates that someone other than me shot the video footage at issue when I was out of town, and could not have done so. These facts were confirmed by law enforcement investigators," the statement read in part.
Except Fort Lupton police don’t confirm, but that hasn’t stopped Maddox from filing a motion to seal the case and make the arrest disappear. Enney understands why Maddox would want all this to go away.
“Of course, why would you not want it sealed, it never existed, right? It never happened, right?” Enney said.
As for Vasquez, she still wants justice.
“It makes me upset a lot, especially as a woman trying to become a police officer. I’ve seen the other side of it and that’s why I wanted to be a cop and this makes me embarrassed to be a part of that system because of people like Fort Lupton Police Department," she said. "When I become a police officer, I won’t let that happen.”
Maddox’s motion to seal the case will be heard in a Weld County courtroom on Friday. His defense attorney insisted that Maddox had an alibi.
Attorney Kyle Sawyer said Maddox had five people willing to testify he was out of town celebrating his anniversary on the day the video was time stamped.AlertMe