Six months ago, a young man with a love for playing the guitar and helping people was murdered. It is only a matter of time until Andrew Graham’s …
This item is available in full to subscribers.
If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.
Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.
If you made a voluntary contribution in 2022-2023 of $50 or more, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one at no additional charge. VIP Digital Access includes access to all websites and online content.
Six months ago, a young man with a love for playing the guitar
and helping people was murdered.
It is only a matter of time until Andrew Graham’s killer is
brought to justice. It has to be.
His family deserves something resembling closure. Can justice
help ease the pain?
“I don’t know how I’m going to feel,” Graham’s mother, Cyndi
Gelston, said on a recent rainy morning. “Nothing is going to bring
my son back. He was a good man with such potential. They robbed the
world of that.”
When Graham was found dead in November, Centennial had not seen
a homicide investigation in three years.
The types of crime you generally hear about in the south suburbs
are incidents like theft or mischief of some sort. People leaving
their car doors unlocked and having their sunglasses stolen. Kids
spray painting a stop sign.
You couldn’t see this coming.
There have been media reports linking the murder to gang members
from Denver who followed Graham to Centennial on the light rail.
That has not been confirmed by authorities, though.
“We’ve had media coverage lately that was the result of
information obtained inappropriately,” Arapahoe County Sheriff
Grayson Robinson told me April 29.
Graham was 23 when he was found shot to death in the early
morning hours of Nov. 6. Details from police reports and his mother
paint a picture of what should have been a routine night for a
young man with big things ahead of him.
The recent University of Colorado graduate had been making his
way home via public transportation from Boulder, where he was to
attend grad school in January. He had signed a lease on an
apartment up there and was set to study computational
Graham’s mother said at one point that night, her son had
stopped at Union Station in downtown Denver to bring food to some
homeless men. He was prone to random acts of kindness.
A surveillance video showed Graham getting off a light rail
train at 11:40 p.m. Nov. 5 at the County Line and I-25 station.
The mystery lies in what happened next. Graham was headed on
foot to his parents’ Centennial home a few miles away. A member of
the university’s Ultimate Frisbee team, Graham was active and
walked everywhere he could, his mother said.
His body was found at 5:30 a.m. in the 8700 block of East
Phillips Place, about six blocks from his family’s home.
The Willow Creek neighborhood where Graham was killed is like
the rest of the city: a place you feel safe. In 2009, for the fifth
year in a row, Centennial had the lowest crime rate in the state
among larger cities, according to a survey by a Washington,
Centennial’s population of about 102,000 ranks in the top 10 in
Colorado. But for the most part, it has avoided big-city crime in
its 9-year history.
Last fall, there was no reason to believe murder was coming to
town, certainly not in the way it did.
A random encounter.
That’s likely what it was, according to the sheriff’s office.
Graham’s money, credit cards and cell phone were not stolen.
Suddenly, the sheriff was tasked with something out of the
ordinary in his jurisdiction: catching a killer.
That Robinson will not comment on details of the investigation
is standard in this type of case.
Law enforcement authorities typically will not release any
information they feel could jeopardize an investigation and,
ultimately, diminish public safety.
But would the public, particularly the people of Willow Creek,
feel safer if they knew more? Or is believing that law enforcement
is hot on the trail enough?
Gelston, for one, said she is pleased with the way the
investigation is being handled.
“I know that the police are doing everything they can,” she
said. “They’re really working very hard in building a case that
results in a conviction. I have total faith in them.”
The department has dedicated extensive resources to the case,
and the community is safe, Robinson said. He has believed from the
start it was a random encounter.
The veteran lawman has gotten to know quite a bit about Graham.
So much promise and purpose in that young man.
Robinson won’t have this investigation straying off course.
“My position is, we are going to do this right,” he said. “Right
doesn’t always mean quick.”
“Sometimes I feel like it’s been forever,” Gelston said, “and
sometimes I feel like it was yesterday.”
There can be no happy ending to this story. The only acceptable
conclusion is the one in which the killer is caught, convicted and
Tonight, a family will do what it can. A mother will light a
candle in front of her son’s picture to honor his memory and keep
him out of the dark.
Chris Rotar is a news editor for Colorado Community
Other items that may interest you
We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.
The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.