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Sunday, October 3, 2010

[CO] Never forgetting: The death of Pueblo Police detective's wife Barbara Yaklich remains a mystery


From 2006 News:
...A task force made up of some of Colorado's most highly respected detectives concluded Friday that the original investigation was so botched that there is no way to determine how Barbara Yaklich died... A timeline of events leading up to the death was never constructed; no record of an interview with Dennis Yaklich was kept, if one was ever conducted; and no medical records for Barbara Yaklich could be found, beyond her death certificate and autopsy report...


Panel: Yaklich death suspicious ; Report says sloppy records will keep '77 case a mystery
Rocky Mountain News
Bianca Prieto
May 13, 2006

Headline p.1A - TASK FORCE; YAKLICH DEATH LIKELY NEVER TO BE SOLVED / Botched case beyond salvage.

The death of a mother of four on Valentine's Day 1977 remains shadowed by mystery, perhaps forever.

A task force made up of some of Colorado's most highly respected detectives concluded Friday that the original investigation was so botched that there is no way to determine how Barbara Yaklich died more than 29 years ago, beyond that it was a "suspicious death."

Five investigators from various Colorado police agencies looked into Yaklich's death and whether her husband, Dennis Yaklich, a narcotics detective, might have been responsible.

Two medical examiners involved in the review said they believe Yaklich was a victim of a homicide, but the group concluded in a report released Friday that the case was so poorly documented that they could not conduct a murder investigation.

"It is the opinion of the task force that we have seen better documented traffic accidents," said Steve Johnson of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

A timeline of events leading up to the death was never constructed; no record of an interview with Dennis Yaklich was kept, if one was ever conducted; and no medical records for Barbara Yaklich could be found, beyond her death certificate and autopsy report.

Johnson said there was no evidence of a coverup to protect Dennis Yaklich, a flamboyant, handsome narcotics investigator who was himself murdered nine years after his first wife's death.

The autopsy report said Barbara Yaklich died from a reaction to a diet drug that the "patient had been taking . . . for some period of time."

On page two of the report, however, the coroner describes the body as "that of a well-developed, well-nourished, white female."

Hardly the body of a diet pill abuser, investigators said.

The task force was commissioned by the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office last September after a pathologist raised questions about the findings in Barbara Yaklich's autopsy.

Pathologists say Barbara Yaklich's liver ripped apart and quickly filled her abdomen with more than two liters of blood, about 40 percent of her total blood volume. Now investigators have concluded that the tear was caused by blunt force trauma, consistent with "punches and knee drops to the upper abdomen," according to pathologist Stephen Cina, who reviewed the case.

Barbara Yaklich died in the ambulance on the way to Pueblo's Parkview Hospital.

Three weeks later, the county coroner, Neill McGrath, ruled that her death was a reaction to a diet drug and attributed the massive internal bleeding to energetic efforts to resuscitate her by her husband, who was 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds.

Dennis Yaklich was alone with his wife that day. He told investigators that when his wife fainted at their rural home 15 miles east of town he tried to give her cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

The initial Pueblo County sheriff's report is two pages long and was stamped "CLOSED" on April 25, 1977.

The last sentence in the report reads, "I will complete this investigation after receiving the report of the coroner after completion of his examination." But nothing more was added.

Case closed.

Dennis Yaklich was found shot to death in the driveway of the same home nine years later. He was the victim of a murder-for- hire arranged by his second wife, Donna.

The investigation found that five blasts from two 12-gauge shotguns killed him. Two brothers hired by Donna Yaklich were convicted in the shooting.

Donna Yaklich, who was sentenced to 40 years in prison for her role in her husband's death, told the News last October that Dennis Yaklich had abused and threatened her, and said she feared "they would find me like they found Barbara."

"I always felt he killed her because of the things he would say . . . I figured he got away with it" because he was a police officer, she said.

Pueblo County Sheriff Dan Corsentino reopened the investigation into Barbara Yaklich's death after a 9News reporter showed the 1977 autopsy report to two experienced coroners. The sheriff's office was inundated with calls soon after the report aired.

Donna Yaklich was released to a Denver-area halfway house earlier this year. The parole board said the reopened investigation into Barbara Yaklich's death did not affect their decision.
[police officer involved domestic violence oidv intimate partner violence (IPV) abuse law enforcement public safety fatality fatalities lethal murder colorado state murder for hire murder plot coverup cover-up unsolved unresolved]

5 comments:

  1. Sisters disagree over cause of mother's death
    9news.com
    Paula Woodward
    Created: 9/28/2005 10:13 PM MDT
    Updated: 10/4/2005 10:31 AM MDT

    PUEBLO - The state-wide task force investigating the death of a Pueblo Detective's wife held its first meeting Wednesday.

    The task force was formed by Pueblo County Sheriff Dan Corsentino after a 9WTK investigation revealed the original medical examiner on the case may have misdiagnosed what could be murder.

    Pueblo Narcotics Detective Dennis Yaklich's first wife Barbara died on February 14th, 1977. Her death was listed then as natural causes from a potassium imbalance caused by diet drugs. But two forensic pathologists consulted by 9News said the circumstances of the death are "suspicious" most likely caused by a "blow to the stomach."

    We took our findings to the Pueblo district attorney, sheriff and coroner, all of whom have started investigations. None of them were in office when Barbara Yaklich died.

    Barbara Yaklich had two daughters when she died. Kim was 12. Vanessa was just 2-years-old. Kim says she remembers abuse by her step-father. "Dennis pounding on the door. My mom saying, please don't you hurt me. You hurt me. My mom crying.."

    Vanessa doesn't remember her mother but says her father didn't murder her mother. "I will until the day I die be a voice for my father. It's something I want to do."

    Dennis Yaklich was ambushed in 1985 after his second wife, Donna, hired two teenagers to kill him. Donna Yaklich is still in prison. She claimed domestic abuse. The judge sentenced her to 40 years, even though the jurors and a parole officer recommended leniency.

    The circumstances of the three current investigations are being kept private until a resolution is reached. Possible resolutions include a coroner's inquest, a grand jury and/or a recommendation that there be no further investigation into Barbara Yaklich's death.

    Two of the sheriff's task force members are well-known homicide investigators. One is Lt. Jon Priest from Denver Police. The other is former Detective Lou Smit from the El Paso County Sheriff's Department. He who was an investigator on the JonBenet Ramsey murder case.

    ReplyDelete
  2. How can you convict this woman. There were people who knew about this man's abuse and she tried to get help. You're saying we have to just take it. And worse he was a police officer. Even the department potected him. We have no choice but to protect ourselves and our children. Unless you have lived that life you can not understand it. This was such a miscarriage of justice, no this was not even justice. He was a dog and should've been put down like the mad dog he was. How can a daughter defend him she was not even old enough to know what he did. Unlike the other older one. Wake up your not a little girl anymore you know what goes on in this world.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This case has been scrutinized by almost everyone who had any interest in it.
    I knew Dennis through my father.
    If he was abusive to his wife, she would have the battle scars and bruises. She doesn't.
    Dennis was a great man. He cared deeply for his children, and he was a great cop.
    When that movie came out about Dennis, told through the wife, I lost it!
    She lied so much! And all those damn bleeding hearts fell for it.
    I hope someone at Sundance or IFC does a movie saying the truth about Dennis.
    I still think about him. He was a great man who married the wrong woman.
    My thoughts and prayers are with Dennis' s children.
    Much love,
    Beckie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You show that you don't know very much about the dynamics of domestic abuse. People don't have to be bruised and scarred, and usually when they are, others don't know.

      Delete
  4. I Agree with Anonymous, the abused do not always have scars. The abusers know how to hide it so they don't get found out. I don't blame Donna one bit for what she did. She had a son to protect and she had run out of options. She BEGGED people for help and NO ONE would help her, NOT EVEN the POLICE DEPT! So she did what she had to do to protect her son and herself!

    ReplyDelete

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