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Denver bar fire victim identified as former Yuma resident
A former Yuma resident has been identified as one of five people murdered early Wednesday morning at a Denver bar that was set on fire in an attempt to hide the crime.
Tereasa Beesley, 45, was killed just before Fero’s Bar and Grill closed, in what police are calling a robbery. The Denver medical examiner’s office has not released the cause of death.
Beesley, who grew up in the eastern Montana town of Sidney and had recently bought a bar near Fero’s, was a field sales representative for the Yuma Sun from September 2009 to March 2010.
Beesley also used to own the Topper Club in Yuma, which is now Stilleto’s Gentlemans Club. Beesley was listed in Colorado state records as the owner of Maxim Lounge, another Denver bar. Her ex-husband, Cliff Beesley, owns Fat Harvey’s nightclub here in Yuma.
"My guess is she left that bar and went to the other bar and just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time," said Cliff Beesley, who has gone to Denver.
Laurie Kennedy, who bought the Topper Club from Beesley about three years ago, said she is shocked about what has happened.
"I’m just devastated over this. This is just awful. (Tereasa) is going to be missed."
Kennedy said she last spoke with Tereasa back in September, shortly before she moved to Denver, and that she had told her about how excited she was about starting over someplace new.
"She hadn’t been gone very long," Kennedy said.
A gathering was planned for Thursday night at Stilleto’s in memory of Beesley. Kennedy said many of her customers remember Beesley and were the ones who suggested holding the memorial.
Also killed were Daria M. Pohl, 22, Kellene Fallon, 45, Ross Richter, 29, and Young Fero, 63, the bar’s owner. They are believed to be the only people in the bar when the fire started.
Denver police announced they have three suspects in custody in connection with the murder and bar fire. The suspects are Joseph Hill, 27, and his brother, Lynell Hill, 24, and Dexter Lewis, 22. They were all arrested in Denver.
According to published media reports, an officer on routine patrol around 2 a.m. noticed a fire inside the bar and called the fire department. Firefighters found the bodies when they entered the building.
The officer who reported the fire said he heard screams, but investigators said they likely came from bystanders outside.
The bar is in a strip mall about five miles south of downtown Denver, just beyond the upscale Cherry Creek North shopping district. It is wedged among a check-cashing store, a tennis shop, a nail salon and a car repair business on one of the city’s busiest streets, Colorado Boulevard.
Police said the fire did extensive damage, but little of that was visible from the outside. The bar attracted both regulars and people staying in nearby hotels, but neighbors said it didn’t seem busy most days.
Frequent patron Chris Brady said the bar’s customers ranged from "semi-homeless-looking people" to patrons in suits and ties.
Brady was at the bar for a regular poker game held Tuesdays and won $25 cash before leaving at about 11 p.m. "There was nobody random or crazy in there."
Brady said Fero was known for cooking up beef dishes for customers at a moment’s notice and usually would close the bar herself.
She bid Brady good night Tuesday as he paid his tab. "She said, ‘Thank you, sweetie. Have a good night.’ I said, ‘You too.'"
Few details were immediately known about the other victims.
At an address listed for Pohl, a man who answered the door said, "We’re not interested in talking." But neighbors Bert and Suzanne Kasben expressed disbelief that the hardworking, studious 22-year-old was one of the victims.
"She was always working," Bert said, adding he knew she held several waitressing jobs.
The Kasbens said Pohl was one of three sisters in a tight-knit family who often were seen walking their dog in a quiet cul-de-sac in their neighborhood.
Contributing to this report were Associated Press researchers Julie Reed and Judith Ausuebel in New York, and AP writers Dan Elliott and Nicholas Riccardi in Denver, Matt Volz in Helena, Mont., Terry Tang in Phoenix, and Maria Sudekum in Kansas City.