COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (KRDO) — 13 Investigations learns new details about the man charged with murder just hours after a homeless camp was engulfed in flames Monday morning in the Stratmoor Hills area of El Paso County. Gregory Lee, 64, has been charged with the first degree murder of Jose Delgado-Diaz.
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said it interviewed people at the scene who said Delgado-Diaz was responsible for starting the fire early in the morning. Her body was found hours later behind Deja Vu Showgirls, a business half a mile from where the fire occurred.
According to the property’s trustee, Joseph Birkenhoff, Lee was “buying property” from him. The property included the parcel of land that burned, an area near the cloverleaf ditch. The trustee said he lives in Durango and doesn’t have time to constantly watch the property.
“I have no relationship with Greg other than he was buying the property,” Birkenhoff said. “He called me a few months ago and said if I gave you $200 or $300 a month, can I stay on the property and keep it clean? And I said yes.”
Publicly available property records on the El Paso County Assessor’s website show that Savers Trust owns the property in question. Birkenhoff insisted he did not “own” the property. However, he says he allowed Lee, and only Lee, to be on the property.
“There’s only one person who has business on this property, and that’s Greg Lee,” Birkenhoff said. “He deposited some money and he wants to stay there and he’s legal. Everyone else, if they don’t have his permission, is illegal.”
The sheriff’s office said it cannot evict anyone from the property unless the courts order it to do so. In court documents obtained by 13 InvestigationsEl Paso County Commissioners filed a civil lawsuit against Savers Trust in August 2021.
In the complaint, they allege that Savers Trust violates the terms of the El Paso County Land Development Code. Specifically, codes indicating who can occupy the piece of property that has caught fire.
The complaint states: “Chapter 5, Section 5.2.42(A)(3) of the Code provides that no one shall occupy
or reside in a vehicle and/or recreational vehicle. RVs may be occupied
when located in an RVP district or used as temporary accommodation subject to the standards of
Chapter 5 of this Code.”
El Paso County Commissioners Say Savers Trust ‘Established Incidental Uses
such as parking and storing vehicles without first establishing a primary use (such as a
residence), occupancy of vehicles, including motorhomes, accumulation of waste
(construction remains, metals, waste, tires, miscellaneous debris, etc.) and storage of
The complaint urges the presiding judge to order Savers Trust to bring the property back into compliance with the aforementioned land development code. However, according to court records, the case was dismissed as a civil case on December 22, 2021.
“I tried to sell it to the county for years,” Birkenhoff said. “You know, if the county called it a park, then they could keep it clean and tidy. But you know, they don’t want to. Nobody wants to do anything but blame somebody else. “
Gregory Lee was incarcerated in the El Paso County Jail for murder and is not eligible for bail.