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Could be months before anyone charged in gruesome Westminster hit-and-run

Marcus Joe Tapia
Posted at 4:13 PM, Nov 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-10 20:05:40-05

WESTMINSTER, Colo. — A memorial sits not too far from the corner of West 74th Avenue and Federal Boulevard where a 29-year-old man died in a gruesome hit-and-run nearly three weeks ago.

"You left him as a dog ... and he wasn't an animal. He's an actual human being," Alicia Schinke said. "It just saddens me that people are that heartless or that cold that they can do that to anybody."

She says her son, Marcus Joe Tapia, was crossing the street around midnight on Oct. 21 when a driver hit him, dragged his body, left him on the sidewalk and took off. His body was left in such terrible condition that Schinke was never allowed to see him.

"For the last three weeks, I've been finding things of his, things that I shouldn't have been able to find, so it's just really, really sad," Schinke said.

Days after, Westminster police found the car involved and identified a person of interest. But the amount of time Schinke says it could take to get justice for her son concerns her.

"The detective that's on the case has only talked to me once and just told me that it'll take six months to a year for him to build a case, which didn't tell me anything, really," she said.

A Westminster police spokesperson says it could be months before anyone is formally charged because they want to present a case to the district attorney's office that ensures a "successful prosecution."

Schinke hopes bringing more attention to what happened to Marcus will move the needle.

"He had a beautiful soul, beautiful heart," she said. "For him to end up like this and no justice, it just sucks."

In addition to her concerns about the length of the investigation, she also expressed her disappointment with the cleanup of the crime scene. The Westminster Police Department and Westminster Fire Department released a joint statement about this:

We understand this is an extremely traumatic experience for everyone involved in this incident. On the evening this occurred, the Adams County Coroner responded to the scene and respectfully cared for the remains of the deceased individual.

Westminster Police and Fire have put forth a great deal of effort to make sure this scene was cleaned as thoroughly as possible. This consisted of the Westminster Fire Department using water from fire hoses and a diluted bleach solution.

Since that time, the Fire Department has revisited the scene on multiple occasions in daylight conditions to re-examine the area. Unfortunately, there remains a black oil stain on the sidewalk. We have utilized pressurized water however, these additional efforts have had minimal to no effect on cleaning the stains from vehicle fluids.

Again, our deepest sympathies go out to everyone who was affected by this tragedy.