A crawl space underneath the former home of murder suspect Kenneth Botham went unnoticed by sheriff’s investigators in three searches simply because they didn’t know it was there.

This was confirmed today by Mesa County Sheriff Dick Williams.  He was responding to questions raised in the wake of testimony Tuesday in Botham’s preliminary hearing in county court.

A .22 caliber Western revolver was found underneath the home at 1914 Ouray on Christmas Day by a young man who planned to move into the residence, according to investigator Milo Vig of the Sheriff’s department.

Vig testified the gun was found by Steve Brant, 21, in the crawl space beneath a closet off the home’s living room.  It was on the ground.

The weapon is currently being tested by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to determine if it was involved in the deaths of Troy Miracle, 5, and Chad Miracle, 3, killed with their mother Linda Miracle, 24 and Patricia Botham, 24, on Aug. 23.

Autopsies performed on the boys revealed they died of gunshot wounds to the head from a .22 caliber weapon.  Botham is charged with the murders.

Dist. Atty. Terrance Farina declined to comment on specifics of the incident today.  He said he did not want to discuss aspects of the case already raised in court testimony.

However, Williams said he doubted his men would have found the weapon even if they had looked underneath the house.

He pointed out that Brant had been in the crawl space the previous Saturday and saw nothing unusual.  Movement connected with Brant’s work on the plumbing of the house may have disloged [dislodged] the weapon from where it had been placed, a lawmen speculated.

Williams also said his investigators had gone over the home and yard with a metal detecting device.  That also failed to locate the weapon found by Brant, he noted.  The sheriff said nails and other metal objects normally part of a home hampered the device’s efficiency.

“We searched mostly in the yard, too,” he said.

Sheriff’s investigators searched the home Botham rented twice before his arrest and once after.  Previous searches by city police also failed to locate the crawl space.

Williams noted that the entrance to the crawl space was covered with a carpet in the closet and boxes had been placed on top of it.

Investigators had noticed air vents around the foundation of the home but were unable to find an entrance into the crawl space.


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