PALMER LAKE, Colo. (KKTV) - A killer remains at large as the El Paso County Sheriff's Office confirms a homicide investigation is underway in the Mount Herman Road area.
Monday afternoon, the El Paso County Sheriff's Office announced the body found over the weekend in the area was indeed 61-year-old Tim Watkins, a mountain biker who went missing on Sept. 14.
The sheriff's office confirmed Watkins was shot.
The trails around Mount Herman Road are popular with bikers and hikers alike, and it's not uncommon to see families with small kids or walking their dogs. The El Paso County Sheriff's Office says the public should not stop enjoying the area, but use normal precautions, such as letting people know which trail you are planning to use and when you expect to be back.
The town of Palmer Lake lit up the star to honor the memory of Watkins. Watkins was riding a bike built by his longtime friend Jeff Tessier when he was killed.
"I think of Tim as a legend in the mountain bike community," said Tessier. "He had a passion for riding and loved it so dearly."
Tessier says the two of them had worked on biking projects together for more than a decade. Tessier says Watkins was very involved in his community and known throughout the town.
"He was a great guy that just seemed like nothing ever got him down, always a smile on his face," Tessier told 11 News. "Always happy, always happy to help you, and even if you were lost on a trail he would go all out to help you find your way back."
Watkins' family had already begun mourning his passing before the sheriff's office identified him as the victim. They held a candlelight vigil for him at Palmer Lake Town Hall Sunday night.
"Ginger [Watkins' wife] is devastated and numb," said Helen Eichman, Tim's mother-in-law. "But we can't thank the everyone for the love and outpouring from the community and everyone who went to look for him."
Watkins was last seen at 10 a.m. Sept. 14, but initially, authorities didn't know where to start with their search. All they knew was he had left his Palmer Lake home that morning on his mountain bike to go ride trails in the mountains.
"We ask the community to be vigilant during this time," said sheriff's office spokesperson Jacqueline Kirby. "If they see anything out of the ordinary please give the sheriff's office a call. No tip is too small."
If you see anything suspicious or out of the ordinary, please contact the sheriff's office dispatch center at 719-390-5555 or call the sheriff’s office tip line at 719-520-6666.
The sheriff's office reported on Wednesday they had received more than 150 messages on the case. Investigators will be following up on every tip that comes in through the phone lines and through their website.
The sheriff's office also sent out the following tips to the public on biking and hiking:
-Never go alone, use the buddy system.
-Always tell someone where you are going and when you anticipate being back.
-Know your route and stick to your route.
-Take a fully charged cell phone with you.
-Remain aware of your surroundings at all times.
-Report anything suspicious to law enforcement immediately.