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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

The Fero's Bar & Grill Mass Murder Case

     At one-forty in the morning of Wednesday, October 17, 2012, a Glendale, Colorado police officer on routine patrol spotted flames coming out the back of Fero's Bar & Grill that was situated in a strip mall five miles south of downtown Denver. Firefighters, upon entering the structure to combat the blaze, discovered five corpses.

     One of the four women found dead at the fire scene was 63-year-old Young Fero, the owner of the establishment. The South Korean native assumed sole proprietorship of the 28-year-old business following her divorce from its co-founder, Danny Fero. Fero's Bar & Grill catered to regular patrons and people staying at local hotels. The bar featured a weekly poker game, pool tables and Japanese food. It had not been a particularly busy place.

     A spokesperson with the Denver Police Department at a press conference later in the day announced that on-site evidence indicated that the fire had been intentionally set fifteen to twenty minutes before the bar's regular 2:00 AM closing time. The bodies of the five victims showed signs of physical trauma unrelated to the blaze. As a result investigators were operating on the theory that the victims had been murdered before someone set the place on fire. Detectives believed the murders had been committed by armed robbers who had set the fire to destroy evidence.

     Besides Young Fero, the bar's owner and operator, the other victims, all patrons, were: Daria M. Pohl, 22; Kellene Fallon, 45; Ross Richter, 29; and Teressa Beesley, 45. There were no other people in the bar during the robbery, murders and fire.

     On October 18, 2012, the day after the arson-murders, the Denver police arrested three men in connection with the case. Dexter Lewis, 22, Joseph Hill, 27 and his brother Lynell Hill, 24, were each charged with five counts of murder and one count of aggravated robbery and arson.

     Dexter Lewis, engaged to a woman who was seven months pregnant, had been arrested in May 2009 in Jefferson County, Colorado on several counts of assault on a police officer. He pleaded guilty to felony menacing. The other charges were dropped. That year Mr. Lewis also pleaded guilty to felony robbery and was sentenced to three years in prison. When arrested on October 18, 2012 in connection with the Fero's Bar & Grill mass murder case he was out on parole.

     Police in Arapahoe County arrested Lynell Hill in August 2011 on charges of misdemeanor assault, reckless endangerment and harassment. Hill pleaded guilty to harassment involving physical force and in return received a deferred nine-month sentence that allowed him to stay out of jail as long as he stayed out of trouble.

     Joseph Hill, on his Facebook page, called himself a "singer song writer" who is just a ..."great person to know, if you're genuine." Hill, who apparently thought a lot of himself, went on to say, "I'm very hardworking and dedicated and very ambitious as well. I'm chasing my dreams."

     The Denver Medical Examiner's office ruled the manner of the five deaths as criminal homicide. All of the victims had been shot to death before the fire.

     The Hill brothers pleaded guilty to the murders in December 2013. A month later, the judge sentenced Joseph to five life sentences and Lynell to 70 years in prison. As part of the plea agreement the brothers agreed to testify against Dexter Lewis. In May 2014 the prosecutor in the Lewis case announced his intention to pursue the death penalty.

     In August 2014 lawyers representing Dexter Lewis were in court presenting arguments in support of having the upcoming trial moved out of Denver. The defense attorneys also urged the judge to exclude statements their client had made to the police after his arrest.

     On September 30, 2014 Denver District Court Judge John Madden denied 32 pre-trial motions that had been filed by the Lewis defense including a request to sequester the jury. The judge also denied the defense petition to query members of the jury pool on how they felt about the death penalty. (The last time a Denver jury sentenced a defendant to death was 1986.) Judge Madden set the trial for January 20, 2015.

     In November 2014 Dexter Lewis' attorneys were back in court, this time seeking more time to prepare their defense. Public Defender Chris Baumann claimed his legal team needed more time to interview potential trial witnesses. "We have gone to nine cities in seven states so far," he said.

     Judge Madden, in December 2014, granted the defense request to delay the start of the Lewis trial to July 20, 2015. Lewis faced 16 felony counts that included first-degree murder, arson and robbery in the October 2012 massacre of the bar's owner and her patrons.

     In August, 2015 a jury in Denver found Dexter Lewis guilty as charged. A few months later the judge sentenced him to life in prison.  

1 comment:

  1. It was not a random robbery gone wrong as widely reported. One of the killers knew the owner, she was his landlord and I believe at one point his employer. It was a case of going in and killing anyone who just happened to be there at the time. The bar has been remodeled and the 4000 ft location split into 2 2000 sq feet shops. One is a flooring store, the other a suppliment store. I wouldn't step foot in either place if you paid me. Horrific.