Gas station murder suspect turned in by girlfriend

Local News
This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (KDVR) — The Problem Solvers have learned 31-year-old Samuel Birch is the suspect charged in the homicide and robbery of a Centennial gas station clerk on Thanksgiving Day.

An affidavit obtained by the Problem Solvers states the suspect’s girlfriend turned Birch in on Dec. 11.

Arapahoe County sheriff’s deputies had put out multiple press releases seeking leads in the murder of 24-year-old Mauricio Perez.

Perez was working as a clerk at a Circle K gas station at 8623 S. Quebec St. on Thanksgiving Day when surveillance video shows a white male with a black mask covering his face entered the gas station at 6:44 p.m.

That man was armed with a black, long-barreled revolver with an offset extractor rod.

The suspect asked for t10 packs of Marlboro cigarettes. As Perez rang up the order, the suspect pointed his handgun at Perez and allegedly said, “I need everything in the register too, though. Dude, it’s going to be you, your stomach or the money. Put everything in the bag. All of it, all of it right now. I can shoot you when I leave or I can shoot you right now.”

Perez is seen on store surveillance video complying with the suspect’s demands, putting the money and cigarettes into a plastic bag, and handing it to the suspect.

The man then thanks him and shoots him in the stomach.

Perez died nearly three hours later at Sky Ridge Medical Center with a .22 caliber bullet lodged in his spine.

Surveillance video in the area shows the suspect walk to a dark-colored sedan parked in the Stein Mart parking lot and then drive west on County Line Road.

A store manager would later tell detectives the suspect appeared to have gotten away with $226.96 in cash and 10 packs of Marlboro cigarettes valued at about $65.39.

Deputies immediately suspected the robbery and homicide was related to another robbery at a Conoco gas station just two hours earlier at 10210 E. Arapahoe Rd. in Centennial.  

In that robbery, the suspect was also a white male, about five feet six inches tall, wearing gray pants, a black mask, yellow gloves and a grey hooded sweatshirt with “No Pain, No Jane” written on the front.

The suspect was also armed with a black, long-barreled revolver and demanded money from the register.

The clerk pulled out the cash register drawer and set it on the counter.

The affidavit states the suspect pulled the cash out and fired a single shot into the ceiling of the store.

Using surveillance video from the Culver’s Sandwich Shop on East Arapahoe Road, deputies identified the suspect’s car as a black Ford Fiesta with two distinct horizontal white marks on the front passenger’s side, which matched the same vehicle description used in the other gas station robbery and shooting.

On Dec. 11, deputies received a tip from a woman who said the shooter was her daughter’s boyfriend. On the same phone call, deputies spoke with the suspect’s girlfriend who told the investigator she recognized her boyfriend Sam Birch in a media release wearing the hooded gray sweatshirt with the lettering, “No Pain, No Jane.”

She also confirmed Birch wore glasses and drove a Ford Fiesta.

She told detectives she was home on Thanksgiving Day with COVID-19 and, according to the affidavit, she remembered Birch leaving the apartment the couple shared around 3 p.m. and not coming home until 8 p.m.

Later that afternoon during a formal interview at Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office headquarters she told detectives Birch had shown her cash and admitted to committing a robbery.

He also admitted to firing the gun during the robbery because he said the clerk had a gun, according to his girlfriend’s report. 

The affidavit makes no mention of the clerk Mauricio Perez having a gun.

The girlfriend would tell detectives Birch owned the same plaid shirt and shoes seen in the media release, the grey hooded sweatshirt, was left-handed and smoked Marlboro Red cigarettes.

She also confirmed he wears a black mask.

The girlfriend then said Birch told her he buried the gun and burned the shoes and plaid shirt.

She admitted to helping Birch paint over the “No Pain, No Jane” logo on his sweatshirt. 

Investigators showed still photos from both robberies to the suspect’s girlfriend who confirmed they were photos of Birch.

She also recognized the photos of his Ford Fiesta and the yellow gloves he wore and said she believed they were still at the apartment.

Then detectives played an audio clip from the robbery at the Circle K of the suspect’s voice and the girlfriend started crying and stated it was Birch’s voice.

Two hours later the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team went to the apartment complex and saw Birch on the balcony smoking a cigarette.

He was arrested without incident but declined to speak to investigators without an attorney.

Detectives noted he signed his Waiver of Rights form with his left hand.

Birch is being held without bond on nine counts: first degree murder after deliberation, first degree felony murder, two counts of robbery, tampering with physical evidence, two counts of possession of a weapon by a previous offender, carrying a concealed weapon and theft.

He has a court appearance at 3:30 p.m. at the Arapahoe County Justice Center. 

A GoFundMe was created for the family of Mauricio Perez has raised more than $3,000 toward its stated goal of $20,000.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Most Read

Top Stories