13 Investigates: Man accused of murder was “purchasing property” at site of homeless camp fire

13 Investigates: Man accused of murder was “purchasing property” at site of homeless camp fire

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) — 13 Investigates is learning new details about the man who is accused of committing murder just hours after a homeless camp was engulfed in flames on Monday morning in the Stratmoor Hills area of El Paso County. 64-year-old Gregory Lee has been charged with the first-degree murder of Jose Delgado-Diaz.

El Paso County Sheriff’s Office

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office says they interviewed people on scene that said Delgado-Diaz was responsible for starting the early morning fire. His body was found a few hours later behind Deja Vu Showgirls, a business one half-mile away from where the fire happened.

According to the property trustee, Joseph Birkenhoff, Lee was “purchasing property” from him. The property included the parcel of land that went up in flames, an area near the clover ditch. The trustee said he lives in Durango and does not have the time to consistently monitor the property.

“I have no relationship with Greg whatsoever other than he was purchasing the property,” Birkenhoff said. “He called me up a few months ago and said if I give you $200 or $300 a month, can I stay on the property and keep it clean? And I said, yes.”

Publicly accessible property records from the El Paso County Assessor’s website say Savers Trust owns the property in question. Birkenhoff insisted that he does not “own” the property. However, he says he allowed Lee, and only Lee, the ability to be on the property.

“There’s only one person that’s got any business on that property, and that’s Greg Lee,” Birkenhoff said. “He’s put some money down and he wants to stay there and he’s legal. Everybody else, if they don’t have his permission are illegal.”

The Sheriff’s Office said they can’t remove anyone from the property unless they are given orders by the courts to do. In court documents obtained by 13 Investigates, the El Paso County Commissioners filed a civil complaint against Savers Trust in August 2021.

In the complaint, they allege that Savers Trust is violating conditions of the El Paso County Land Development Code. Specifically, codes addressing who can occupy the parcel of property that went up in flames.

The complaint says, “Chapter 5, Section 5.2.42(A)(3) of the Code, provides that no person shall occupy
or reside within any vehicle and/or recreational vehicle. Recreational vehicles may be occupied
when located within an RVP district or used as temporary housing subject to the standards of
Chapter 5 of this Code.”

The El Paso County Commissioners claim that Savers Trust has been, “establishing accessory uses
such as parking and storing of vehicles without first establishing a principal use (such as a
residence), occupancy of vehicles, including recreational vehicles, accumulation of rubbish
(building remains, metal, trash, tires, and miscellaneous debris, etc.), and storage of inoperable

The complaint urges the presiding judge to order Savers Trust to get the property back into compliance with the aforementioned Land Development Code. However, according to court records, the case was closed in civil court on December 22, 2021.

“I’ve been trying to sell it to the county for years,” Birkenhoff said. “You know, if the county would call that a park, then they could keep it clean and keep it in order. But you know, they don’t want to. Nobody wants to do anything except blame somebody else.”

Gregory Lee has been booked into the El Paso County Jail on murder charges and is not eligible for bond.

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