An Archuleta County man was arrested early Sunday morning on charges that include second-degree murder following the discovery of the body another man who was reported missing several days earlier.
The Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office announced late Monday morning that Jesse Hanson-Colburn, whom officials had been searching for since Aug. 12, was found deceased Saturday afternoon and an Archuleta County man is now in custody for his suspected involvement.
Kevin Dale Max Maxwell, 57, was arrested on charges of second-degree murder, tampering with physical evidence and obstruction of government operations at about 1 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 17, said Undersheriff Rich Valdez.
The search begins
Hanson-Colburn, 34, also of Archuleta County, went missing on Aug. 12 around 7:30 p.m. after he failed to show up at his house after reportedly leaving a friend’s house on the lower Blanco River with the intention of taking his canoe down the river to his house off of Trujillo Road.
Hanson-Colburn’s mom, who shared his house, reported that he failed to show up, Valdez indicated.
According to Archuleta County Director of Emergency Management Thad McKain, the preliminary portion of the search for Hanson-Colburn began Thursday around 7 p.m. and included a Flight for Life helicopter flying over the area where Hanson-Colburn was last seen.
Due to darkness, the terrain and an increased risk of injury, ground search teams were not brought in until the following morning, McKain reported. The helicopter also flew over the site on Friday.
The search, which lasted until Saturday, when the body was identified as belonging to Hanson-Colburn, included a variety of agencies and individuals, as well as media efforts and an emergency notification effort.
The search team involved 35 to 40 individuals, McKain explained, including both first responders and volunteers searching on behalf of the family. Those personnel not associated with the family represented the following organizations: Upper San Juan Search and Rescue, an incident management group, Diamond T Ranch, the ACSO, Pagosa Springs Police Department, Navajo State Park and Archuleta County Crime Stoppers.
In addition, the Pagosa Fire Protection District’s swift-water team was on standby to join the search if needed, Wilderness Journeys and Pagosa Outside served in advisory capacities, and the U.S. Forest Service and Southern Ute Indian Tribe were notified to keep watch for Hanson-Colburn. The state emergency operations center was also notified.
“This was a large effort and my thanks go out to all of the individuals who helped and shows just how wonderful the people of our community can truly be when one of ours is in need,” McKain wrote in an email to SUN staff.
“They are such a great asset and it’s amazing the work that they do,” Valdez said of the search crews, calling them a strong asset and a privilege to work with. “Their efforts were extremely helpful.”
The search ends
At about 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, a separate individual reported finding a canoe and the body of an adult male partially in and partially out of the river near mile marker 34 on Trujillo Road, Valdez said. That body was identified as belonging to Hanson-Colburn.
According to Valdez and Detective Lando Garcia, indicators on the body, as well as the position of the body and the location of the canoe, were inconsistent with washing down the river and led investigators to suspect foul play.
Through the subsequent investigation and interviews, ACSO personnel made contact with Maxwell — reported to be the last person with Hanson-Colburn — and he was arrested Sunday morning, Valdez explained.
The time and cause of death are unknown pending the results of an autopsy that was performed Wednesday, Valdez and Garcia reported.
Valdez noted that the incident remains under investigation with assistance from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.