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Transient Charged With Sexual Assault, Kidnapping In Connection To Murder

By Karen Morfitt

FORT COLLINS, Colo. - The man accused in the murder of a young mother has been charged with more crimes in connection to her death.

Jeffrey Etheridge has been accused in the rape as well as murder of Helena Hoffman, whose body was found in Sheldon Lake at City Park on June 21.

Etheridge, Jeffrey
Jeffrey Etheridge (credit: Fort Collins Police Services)

Etheridge, 27, appeared in court on Friday where he was charged with kidnapping and sexual assault charges in addition to the murder charges filed last month.

Zach Denton spoke with CBS4 after learning of Etheridge's arrest; he shares a 4-year-old daughter with Hoffman

CBS4's Andrea Flores interviews Zach Denton (credit: CBS)

"She walked that park every single day she must have walked it a couple 100 times… she knew it like the back of her hand," he said.

Etheridge was convicted out-of-state for possessing child pornography. He was required to register as a sex offender in Fort Collins.

heather helena hoffmann
Heather Helena Hoffmann (credit: Fort Collins Police Services)

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation oversees the state sex offender registry.

"There's approximately 18,000 registered sex offenders in the State of Colorado, so of that 18,000 there are about 900 of those that are homeless or transient," Medina said.

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(credit: CBS)

Without a permanent address, Etheridge, under Colorado law was allowed to list himself as transient.

Etheridge was ultimately allowed to roam the Fort Collins area freely, making it difficult for law enforcement to track.

FORT COLLINS BODY IN LAKE 10PKG.transfer_frame_698
(credit: CBS)

"If somebody is transient they say they may be in this area but they are not really going to be there, they're transient as the word denotes they're going to move from place to place," she said.

Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith sounded off on the issue.

Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith
Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith (credit: CBS)

On his Facebook page, he called the murder of Hoffman inexcusable and urged the community to demand change in policy.

Medina says as an agency, they see the frustration.

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(credit: CBS)

"This is a very challenging issue and so I think we are trying to determine ways we can increase the verification of address or locations to help in the process but it is challenging," Medina said.

Karen Morfitt joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2013. She covers a variety of stories in and around the Denver metro area. Connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @karenmorfitt or email her tips.

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