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Jul 8, 2010 12:02 PM by James Jarman

NEW INFORMATION: Sheriff says local TV station jeopardized death investigation

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa says a Colorado Springs television station was irresponsible and jeopardized the investigation into the death of a 9 year old girl.

Detectives have been wanting to talk to Hanif Sims and his girlfriend Monique Lynch since May, when a body was found buried underneath a townhome in Monument where the 2 had lived.

This week the autopsy confirmed the body is that of Genesis Sims, 9, the daughter of Hanif.

The Sheriff told several members of the media that KRDO-TV acted irresponsibly in it's coverage of the case. "I think in my 23 years in law enforcement, and probably more importantly my 7 1/2 years as Sheriff, I have never seen the media, and 1 particular station, act this way in an investigation," he said, "It has almost been baffling."

He says the station contacted members of Sims and Lynch's families and told them deputies were looking for the couple.  Family members then tipped off Sims and Lynch. 

Deputies say they asked KRDO to hold off on releasing the names of Simms and Lynch shortly after the body was found because it could jeopardize the investigation, but the television station released the names anyway.

He says, at one point, detectives were a couple hours away from catching up with Sims and Lynch in Los Angeles, but the couple fled before detectives got there.  He believes KRDO-TV told the couple's family and friends that detectives were looking for them and that's why the couple left. 

"There's enough evidence there to believe that the particular media outlet that was calling relatives and trying to locate these people, really tipped them off and may have interfered," he said.

Maketa says criminal charges against KRDO-TV have been discussed, but are not likely.

He also said some of KRDO's reporting has not been accurate, "there's been some fact and there's been some fiction and that's unfortunate because I think our citizens deserve more."

Maketa also hopes to meet with KRDO-TV station management to discuss the problems so it never happens again.

KRDO News Director Michael Sipes told NF5 he disagrees with the Sheriff.  He says they stand behind the story. 

Here's his statement:

Throughout the investigation into the Monument Girls' death, we, at KRDO NewsChannel 13, have been very forthcoming with the El Paso County Sheriff's office. In fact we have turned over all of our information to them. Also as an independent news organization, KRDO, along with every other TV station and the Colorado Springs Gazette has talked with family members of the couple. In no way would KRDO ever impede any law enforcement investigation.

On Monday July 5th, when Lynch and Sims contacted KRDO NewsChannel 13, we immediately called the El Paso County Sheriff's office and told them we had the couple on the phone. We then cooperated with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office by informing them, the phone number they called from and the location where they claimed to be staying. Investigators asked us to hold off airing the conversation that night, which we fully complied with. We then handed over the tape of that conversation before airing it on KRDO, NewsChannel 13.

We stand by our stories and investigation and have not been contacted once by El Paso County Sheriff, Terry Maketa. We welcome the opportunity to sit down and talk with him about any concerns he has over our handling of this story but we stand by all of our reporting on this matter.

Michael Sipes
KRDO NewsChannel 13 News Director

 

After reading KRDO's response, deputies with the Sheriff's Office told NF5 that they already had the cell phone number Monique Lynch used to contact 13.  They also say KRDO did not hand over the recording, but required the Sheriff's Office to get a warrant for it.  They also dispute any implications that 13 helped locate Lynch and Sims.

 

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