EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. — Friday marks four years to the day since a local cyclist was found shot and killed on a trail in the Palmer Lake area.
Tim Watkins' body was discovered off the Limbaugh Trail near Mount Herman Road on Sept. 17, 2017. His family still has no answers in the case. No suspects have ever been named.
According to the El Paso County Sheriff's Office, an autopsy showed Tim was shot at least once. The case is being investigated as a homicide.
For the first time since the tragedy, Ginger Chase-Watkins spoke exclusively with News5 about her beloved Tim.
"I've always kind of had this secret little crush on Timmy," Ginger said, remembering how the two were always intertwined by a common love for cycling.
Ginger said she and Tim were married on Sept. 18, 2015. They never had the chance to celebrate their second anniversary, as Tim's body was found the day before it would have happened.
"I remember it like it was yesterday. That feeling. The feeling is so visceral with me, it's just exhausting," Ginger said.
She said Tim has two children from a prior marriage, and when she met his kids, immediately felt like they were family.
Ginger walked News5 through what happened during the week her husband was murdered in September of 2017. She calls the days a total blur.
Sept. 14, 2017
Sept. 14 is Ginger's birthday. The week now contains her birthday, along with the day she lost her husband, and the day that marked their wedding anniversary.
"I had to get up and go to work that day, and Tim, with his big old goofy bunch of red hair, lifted his head up, which he never wakes up that early in the morning, and he's like, 'Do you want to do something for your birthday?'" Ginger remembered.
Ginger works in the medical field, and returned home that night after a long shift.
"When I got home, he wasn't there. And I left him a silly little text, like, 'My detective abilities tell me you're not here, but your car is, so you're on your bike somewhere,'" said Ginger.
Ginger said she wondered if Tim had gone to see his parents, or a friend.
Sept. 15, 2017
When Ginger woke up the next day, Tim still had not come home. She had to go into work again, and could not contact Tim.
Ginger tried calling Tim's place of employment.
"He was working at the Old Town Bike Shop in Colorado Springs, and they said he had not shown up for work. And that's when panic struck me because Tim would never, ever, ever, miss a day of work," Ginger said.
Ginger left work in a panic. Her first thought was Tim could be hurt somewhere. She said people began searching for Tim that day, but nothing was found.
Sept. 16, 2017
Ginger said this is when the El Paso County Sheriff's Office began looking for Tim. According to Ginger, they were able to pinpoint a general location to search based off the last cell phone contact Tim had.
Ginger told News5 she was not allowed to search for Tim that day.
This is when certain items of Tim's were found, said Ginger, including a shoe.
"They took a picture of it and sent it, and I'm like, 'Yeah, that's Tim's shoe.' And I don't know why this sticks out in my head, but a lot of people question me: 'How do you know it's Tim's shoe?' Because I bought the shoes for him in Moab," Ginger explained.
Ginger went on to say Tim had an accident where he basically shattered both of his ankles and feet, and it was very difficult for him to walk without shoes. She said he could not even get out of bed without putting on slippers. So, a lost shoe meant Tim would not be walking out of anywhere, according to Ginger.
Ginger said later that day, some contents of Tim's wallet were recovered. Then, his bicycle was found in Limbaugh Canyon, propped against a tree.
Sept. 17, 2017
The next day, Ginger was determined to help with the search efforts for Tim.
"I am going to look for my husband, that's just it. It's not negotiable. I'm going," said Ginger.
While searching in Limbaugh Canyon, Ginger heard a call on the radio she was carrying.
"We heard somebody on the radio say that they needed help down by Tim's bike, at the location where Tim's bike was... and they answered back and they said, 'What kind of help?' And they said they needed the coroner," Ginger said through tears.
She instantly began sprinting to the area where Tim's bicycle was recovered. She was stopped before she got to Tim's body.
"If it was accidental... It became murder when (the suspect) covered him up," she said. "When they put him in that little hole, and covered him with branches."
To this day, Ginger and the rest of Tim's loved ones have not gotten any answers regarding what happened on the trail.
"Somebody has answers. And we would like them, frankly. It's devastating to know, and it's hard for me to even live here and know that there's somebody out there that essentially has all of our information, and has taken away this beautiful person, this husband, father, grandfather, brother, son, and just upended our lives," Ginger said.
The Limbaugh Canyon trail used to be a favorite of both Tim and Ginger's.
"I don't ever need to go up there again. That place is ruined to me," Ginger said.
On Sept. 16, 2021, Ginger led News5 to a memorial for Tim on a trail near Mount Herman.
"I see him in every sunset. I see him anywhere out here. Outside was Timmy's church," Ginger said.
For a long time, Ginger felt guilty riding her bicycle without Tim by her side. Now, she rides in his honor, and does not want what happened to Tim to stop anyone from doing what they love.
Ginger said she believes getting answers about Tim's murder could bring her some sort of closure. She will not know until it happens.
"We love him, and we miss him. And his grandkids are beautiful. I'm sure he knows, I'm sure he's there," Ginger said.
News5 reached out to the El Paso County Sheriff's Office to see if investigators could speak about the case. A spokesperson said they continue to explore leads, but because of the complex nature of the case, further information "will not be shared at this time."
If you know anything about what happened to Tim Watkins in September of 2017, call the tip line at (719)520-6666.