Missing mountain biker victim in homicide investigation

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PALMER LAKE, Colo. (KKTV) - UPDATE 9/18/17:

Four days after a mountain biker left for a ride and failed to return, law enforcement confirm they have called off their search. On Monday, the El Paso County Sheriff's Office confirmed there is a homicide investigation into his death.

The El Paso County Sheriff's Office began a death investigation Sunday in the area where search crews were looking for Tim Watkins, 61, and upgraded to a homicide investigation on Monday. Jackie Kirby, a spokesperson for the sheriff's office, confirmed the homicide investigation is for the death of Watkins.

The cause and manner of death will be determined by the Coroner's Office once they have received all the information to make a ruling.

ORIGINAL STORY 9/17/17:

Watkins' family has already begun mourning his passing. 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."

Discarded items belonging to a missing mountain biker were located but offer few clues as to what happened to him.

Watkins was last seen 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.

"At the beginning, there was no real information about where he had possibly gone, so there wasn't very much we could do," said Tim Hayden with El Paso County Search and Rescue. "Later in the day, we did get a couple of other clues, one of which was a mountain biking shoe on Mount Herman Road. ... Some civilians that were out there managed to find his bike."

Making the story even stranger, the shoe was found directly on Mount Herman Road, but the bike was found a little ways off the trail, Hayden said. There's been no other sign of Watkins for four days.

"It's too hard to speculate," Hayden said when Cuzick asked if it was possible Watkins had an accident. "There's any number of -- I'm not going to speculate what may have happened at this point. We're just doing everything we can to locate him."

Search dogs, drone pilots, and search and rescue crews from two counties took part in the search efforts on and around Mount Herman Road. People who came out to help with the search told reporter Spencer Wilson it was one of the dogs that found the body around noon Sunday.

“It’s going to be an extensive process due to the terrain that they have to travel in order to get to where the body is, process the scene and get back out. Because where they are there is also no cell or radio service, which only adds to the time that it will take to process the scene.”

Kirby said the autopsy is expected to be done Tuesday at the latest.