GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (TCD) -- A 19-year-old male pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity earlier this month to the killing and decapitation of a 69-year-old homeless man whose remains were found in the suspect’s closet.
On March 1, 2021, Grand Junction Police received a call from someone who reported finding possible human remains inside a plastic bag at a residence. Grand Junction Police said they executed several search warrants and found remains at one of the searched locations.
Investigators ultimately determined the crime occurred near Crosby Avenue and Highway 340 on Feb. 27. Brian Cohee II was taken into custody and charged with first-degree murder, tampering with a deceased human body, and tampering with physical evidence.
According to KKCO-TV, the victim was identified as Warren Barnes. KKCO, citing court documents, reports Cohee admitted to killing Barnes and said he had been thinking about killing someone for months. He reportedly said he drove around homeless encampments at night and planned on killing either a homeless person or a prostitute, KCCO reports.
Cohee allegedly told detectives he used a kitchen knife to kill and decapitate Barnes, then dismembered his body and put the remains in plastic bags. He allegedly brought some of the remains home and left them in his closet. The other remains were reportedly put in the trunk of his car and driven into the Colorado River.
The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reports Cohee’s parents found Barnes' remains on March 1. The autopsy reportedly determined Barnes' body was stabbed even after his death, including a laceration on his mouth to look like a smile. Detectives allegedly uncovered photos on Cohee’s phone of the crime.
According to the Daily Sentinel, Mesa County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Tom Stuckenschneider said Cohee "told me he wanted to know what it felt like to murder someone."
The Colorado Sun reports Cohee’s nickname in high school was "Dahmer" because he was fascinated by serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. Barnes, however, was known in the Grand Junction community. His nickname was "the reading man" because he could always be found reading a book near Main Street, according to The Colorado Sun. A memorial and sculpture in his honor will reportedly be placed in downtown Grand Junction.
KCCO reports Cohee’s case will return to court for review on June 2.