Fellow camper arrested in Breckenridge homicide

Caddie Nath
summit daily news
Special to the DailyGregory Scott Gavin

BRECKENRIDGE – Local forest-dweller Gregory Scott Gavin has been arrested and charged with the murder of Karl Kohler, authorities announced Friday morning.

Gavin, 50, of no fixed address, faces charges of second-degree murder and tampering with physical evidence.

He was taken into custody Thursday afternoon near Keystone, and is currently in Summit County Jail on a $250,000 bond.

“I want to commend our detectives in this investigation,” Summit County undersheriff Derek Woodman said. “For the last three weeks they’ve worked tirelessly on this case to … be able to make the arrest.”

Kohler’s body was found May 19 near the Burro Trail Trailhead in Breckenridge. His death was ruled a homicide due to blunt-force trauma.

Gavin has been a primary suspect from the onset of the investigation, Woodman said, but he would not release any information regarding the possible motive.

Gavin was predominantly unemployed and has lived in Summit County for several years, authorities said. He did not have a prior relationship with the victim.

The DA would not confirm whether Gavin has a criminal record.

Authorities did confirm that Kohler was killed at the same location where his body was found.

Multiple secondhand sources have indicated the murder weapon may have been a baseball bat. Authorities are not releasing any facts of the case and the arrest affidavit has been sealed until June 15.

“Based on physical evidence and confirmation from DNA lab analysis, we feel confident we have put together a solid case,” Woodman said.

Investigators conducted dozens of interviews and processed hundreds of pieces of evidence before making the arrest. They are still waiting for some test results and the final autopsy report.

The District Attorney’s Office asked that the affidavit be sealed while law enforcement concludes the investigation.

Gavin was advised of the charges against him at a hearing Friday morning. He appeared subdued in court, speaking only a few words to Judge Ed Casias when asked a direct question.

He will be represented by a public defender.

The District Attorney’s Office reiterated that Gavin is only facing charges and is innocent until proven guilty.

“We will do whatever we can to ensure justice for the victim,” chief deputy district attorney Scott Turner stated in a joint press release.

Kohler, who was also a year-round camper, was well-known in the community after 10 years living in the area.

His killing shocked and troubled locals, who remembered him as a music lover and gifted artist.

Authorities continued to emphasize that they believed Kohler’s murder to be an isolated incident and that Breckenridge is a safe area.

“The community of Summit County and especially the camping community around which this has evolved, this no longer poses a danger to them,” Turner said.

Second-degree murder carries a penalty of up to life in prison.

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