GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. According to the Mesa County Sheriff's Office, Daniel Stetzel is being charged with second degree murder in the death of his mother Kathleen Stetzel.
Daniel was advised of the murder charge on August 26th at the Mesa County Detention Facility. He confessed to the death of his mother to investigators on August 25th. He remains in jail with no bond.
He was previously arrested by Grand Junction Police officers on the riverfront trail on July 28th on outstanding warrants and new charges of criminal impersonation and drugs.
According to the arrest affidavit, Daniel initially lied to investigators - saying his mother had left with a 'unknown male' the night of her disappearance.
Family members suspected Daniel had something to do with Kathleen's disappearance, specifically because of a bed sheet found at Kathleen's house. The affidavit says that when asked about the sheet Daniel 'became nervous and ran from the home into a nearby corn field'.
Upon finding Kathleen's body in the desert north of 25 Road, Lyndsey Stetzel (daughter of Kathleen Stetzel) said that they had checked that area because 'their family used to go out [there] to target practice shoot'. The location of Kathleen's body was about four miles north of her residence.
Five days later Daniel Stetzel was contacted at the Riverfront Trail at Blue Herron lake. Initially, Daniel provided the false name of 'John Mauterer' before admitting to who he was.
Seven days after Daniel was picked up at the Riverfront Trail, officers searched the area and found a backpack. Inside the backpack was two knives, various clothing items, a paper containing a phone number and the name 'John Mauterer', a paper with the names 'Lyndsey, Kristi, Mike' listed and crossed off, and a white bed sheet with a red substance on it - later determined to be human blood.
As Daniel sat in custody he initially stated he was unaware that his mother was still missing and continued to tell a story about her leaving with an unknown male.
His story began to devolve though, and on August 22nd authorities were informed that he wanted to 'claim responsibility for his mother's death ... against contrary legal advice'.
As a warning to readers, the story becomes graphic from here.
Daniel began his confession admitting to killing his mother, saying 'I'd like to tell you that I'm guilty of what happened .. that I did it ... that's all I wanted to tell you'.
He then spent around 15 minutes explaining a long history of disputes between Kathleen and himself, including an incident in 2008 in which he punched her and was sentenced to five years in the department of corrections because of it.
He stated his mom 'is real mean when she drinks'.
On the night in question Daniel said he didn't know if she was drinking, but according to family members Kathleen had been sober since January 2014.
Daniel stated that his mother attacked him and 'she went a little bit to far .. out of reflex I attacked'.
He then states that 'she freaking slapped me in the face, like hard', and that's when he reached for a screwdriver.
The affidavit states Daniel 'grabbed it and stabbed her', and when Kathleen attempted to choke him he 'stabbed her again both times described in the neck'.
The fight continued until Kathleen said she was going to call the police.
And Daniel snapped.
'It all flashed back to me ... you know, when she did this in 2008 ... I don't know, I just, I just freaking, I grabbed the sheet, you know there was a sheet on the couch, I just grabbed it, and freaking, and just wrapped it around her neck and strangled her I guess ... basically uh choked her to death'.
Daniel confessed he is not a violent person and doesn't know where this behavior came from. He covered his mom's body with a sheet and put her in the back of her car, then he drove into the desert to determine where he'd bury her.
'I said a prayer and left', said Daniel.
When asked, Daniel said he had never been to this area of the desert before. The next day he was awoken by his aunt and uncle asking about the whereabouts of his mother, and he lied to them. He then spent about four days on the run before being arrested.
Daniel says in his eyes this was self defense because Kathleen started the fight, and that the fight was magnified by the 'fear of going back' to jail.