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Publish Date: 10/20/2005

Slain intruder from Longmont
Coroner identifies body with dental records

LONGMONT — The identity of the man who was beaten and stabbed to death by a Boulder County couple after he forced his way into their mountain home Oct. 3 eluded Boulder County officials for two weeks.

Tuesday evening, the Boulder County Coroner’s Office identified him as Evans W. Sussman, 41, of Longmont.

Sussman, who doesn’t have a Colorado criminal record and who wasn’t carrying identification, knocked on the door at 135 Poorman Road, identified himself as “Boulder County police” and forced his way into a home wearing a mask and brandishing a fake gun on the night of his death, according to police reports.

Howard Bittman, the same attorney who has been speaking publicly for the homeowners since the incident, also represented Sussman in his 2002 divorce.

“It is a very bizarre set of circumstances,” Bittman said at about 8 p.m. Wednesday. “I had heard that they had potentially identified somebody.”

Bittman also said he had tried unsuccessfully to contact Sussman this summer when his ex-wife filed a motion for additional child support money. He said Sussman did not contact him about the case.

The Boulder County District Attorney’s office has declined to press charges against the couple — Becci Starr and Scott Mattes — citing the state’s “Make My Day” law. Coroner Tom Faure used dental records to identify Sussman, whose fingerprints didn’t turn up in state or federal databases.

Bittman said Wednesday that he didn’t remember Sussman well.

“I had very minimal interaction with him. The case was over fairly quickly,” Bittman said of the divorce.

Sussman died on the front porch of a home just off Sunshine Canyon, in a mountain neighborhood of half-million-dollar homes.

Police said he knocked on the home’s door and, when Starr answered, forced his way in, according to the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office.

Starr, who kept a baseball bat at the door, hit him several times. Mattes, Starr’s husband, was attracted by the commotion and tackled Sussman, sending both men out the front door while they fought, according to reports.

Sussman dropped the fake gun in the fray and produced a real knife, which Mattes took away from him and used to stab him in the fight. Starr continued to hit him with a bat, while neighbor Dale Hursh called out to them to ask what was happening.

Hursh couldn’t see the fight because of the angle of the houses and the darkness, but called 911 and begged for officers to hurry, telling the operator that his neighbors had fought off an intruder and that the man was dying. Mattes was performing CPR on Sussman when deputies arrived.

A bike found outside of the Poorman Road home was the only vehicle associated with the crime.

Sussman, a divorced father of two, lived in Longmont at a corner house at 197 Francis St., where neighbors were familiar with a friendly man who had problems with taggers spray-painting graffiti on the tall privacy fence around his home.

The house stands on a large, well-tended lot with children’s play equipment in the back yard. Francis Street is unpaved starting at Second Avenue and dead-ends shortly after.

A man who lives near Sussman’s home and who asked not to be identified, said Sussman has lived in the home for about two years.

“I couldn’t have thought of a nicer or more wonderful neighbor,” the man said, adding that his children were great pals with Sussman’s. “I was really shocked by the information and really saddened by it.”

He said he had noticed that his neighbor had been missing for some time and had briefly followed the news about the death on Poorman Road, but never connected the two.

The attempted robbery was too far out of character for the Sussman he knew, the neighbor said. He has been taking care of the dog and the cat at the home to help the family.

He is unsure of the whereabouts of a roommate who had been living in the home with Sussman.

The man added that a police sketch released of Sussman did not actually resemble him.

Sussman’s dog stood sentry at the home Wednesday night, barking at and chasing a reporter who approached the door.

Another neighbor, who also lives on Francis, said Sussman had worked to keep graffiti off his fence and stayed up late at night to try to catch the culprits.

Bittman said Sussman owned a lighting business. A business called Neon Sign and Lighting was listed at the Francis Street address.

Court records indicate that Sussman may have been having financial troubles. Two creditors won default judgments against him this year: one for $1,787 in August and another for $2,200 in January. Neither debt has been paid.

Lt. Joe Gang of the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office said he could not comment on any new information on the investigation since identifying Sussman.

“It is just too early for us to comment further at this point,” he said.

A woman who answered the phone at the Oregon home of Michael and Nancy Sussman, who are the listed owners of 197 Francis St., said she would not comment and quickly hung up.

No one answered a phone to a Boulder number listed to Sussman’s ex-wife.

According to Daily Times-Call archives and county records, Evans Sussman bought the Francis Street house in January 2003 for $260,000, and Michael and Nancy Sussman bought it from Evans Sussman in March 2004, also for $260,000.

Pierrette J. Shields can be reached at 303-684-5273, or by e-mail at pshields@times-call.com.

Times-Call staff writer Victoria A.F. Camron contributed to this report.

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