Weird, strange, and surprising news from around the state

by Amanda Push

We had high hopes for the new year, but apparently 2021 isn’t getting any less weird than the prior one. Guess we need to buckle up for this funky ass ride. Sorry folks; there is no ejection seat on this one. We’re all stuck together.

Reality is that we’re not even three months into 2021 and already it already feels like 2020’s weird cousin, so we might as well revel in the oddities that have already occurred. Here’s a few recent headlines from 2021 that reminds us that, no matter what year it is, things can get strange, surreal, and perhaps even a little (or a lot) pandemic-y.

It’s going to be a long 365 days. And here we go.

Plane engine catches on fire over DenverA flight full of passengers leaving Denver and headed for Honolulu didn’t get very far when one of the engines on their plane caught on fire. Just 41 minutes after they took off from the Denver International Airport, the plane turned back around when one of the engines failed and burst into flames. No one on United Flight 328 was injured, but given the fiery video footage of the engine, we doubt anyone in that plane will want to fly again anytime soon.

Residents of Broomfield, a suburb of Denver, got a nasty surprise when the debris from the engine started falling into fields. A piece of engine casing even landed in someone’s front yard.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident.

Authorities increase 21-year-old cold case reward to $100KOn Feb. 14, 2000, Stephanie Hart-Grizzell, 16, was waiting for her boyfriend, Nicholas Kunselman, 15, to finish up his shift at a Subway shop in Littleton, Colorado when they were both shot to death. (Ed. note: You can and should read more about this case in this issue’s cover story about cold case crimes.) Their bodies were discovered by another co-worker after they saw that the shop’s lights were still on at 1 a.m., long after the Subway should have been closed.

The bodies of Kunselman and Hart-Grizzel were both found behind the shop counter. Their killer has never been caught.

Twenty-one years later, law enforcement upped the $12,000 reward to $100,000 in hopes to attract more attention to the case and, hopefully, receive tips that will lead to an arrest.

“With this significantly increased reward, people who haven’t come forward with their information will be much more likely to do so now,” Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Shrader told CBS4. “We are continuing our diligent work to bring justice to Nicholas and Stephanie.”

Anyone with information can call Metro Denver Crime Stoppers (720) 913-7867 or report it online. Anyone that comes forward can remain anonymous.

Law enforcement uses facial reconstruction technology to help solve 2002 cold caseIt was October 2002 when “John Doe” was found wrapped in a blanket off Colorado State Highway 114 in Saguache County.

He was wearing black boxer shorts and a black Harley Davidson T-shirt from Fort Washington, Maryland. He was between 40 and 60 years old, 225 and 300 pounds, 6 feet 5 inches tall, and had no tattoos or significant scars. Most importantly, he had been murdered. To this day, he’s never been identified.

Nineteen years later, a forensic artist has created new sketches of the man using facial recognition technology. Investigators hope it will be key in helping solve the nearly two-decade-old murder.

“We are hoping the updated digital reconstruction images will result in new information that will lead to the identification of this individual and to help solve this case,” Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Deputy Director Chris Schaefer said.

Anyone with a tip regarding the case can call CBI at (719) 647-5999 or the Saguache County Sheriff’s Office at (719) 655-2525.

Endangered species cloned for first time in U.S.An adorable scientific breakthrough is living its best life in a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service facility in Fort Collins, Colorado. Meet Elizabeth Ann: a black-footed ferret cloned from the genes of another black-footed ferret that died in 1998.

Black-footed ferrets, originally thought to be extinct as a result of human activities, are an endangered species that for years were kept in a captive-breeding program that has since released thousands of ferrets across North America since the 1990s.

Elizabeth Ann was cloned from a black-footed ferret named Willa. When Willa died in 1998, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department sent her DNA to the San Diego Zoo Global that hosts cells from more than 1,100 species and subspecies in a type of “frozen zoo.” The tissues are kept in hopes that they can help endangered species survive.

In Willa’s case, her clones will form a new lineage of black-footed ferrets that will live at the Fort Collins facility, with Elizabeth Ann the first of many, hopefully.

Amanda Push

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