KIMBALL — More than a year after state and federal authorities found the body of a deceased man on a Bushnell farm, a former Cheyenne, Wyo., man and his girlfriend face charges in connection with the murder of a 30-year-old Fort Collins, Colo., man.
Vencil Ash III, 40, and his girlfriend, 23-year-old Kelly Meehan, were recently charged in Kimball County in the death of Ryan Guitron. The Colorado man had been missing for more than six years when authorities discovered his remains after arresting Ash on an unrelated case.
Kimball County Attorney Dave Wilson charged Ash with first-degree murder, a Class I felony, on Aug. 25. Ash had faced federal weapons charges, which he has recently been sentenced on, before facing state charges.
Prosecutors charged Meehan, who is also known by the aliases Kelly L. Ash and Kelly L. Meehan-Ash, with aiding and abetting first-degree murder, a Class IA felony, on Sept. 16. The Nebraska Attorney General’s Office has been named as a special prosecutor in the case.
Authorities got a break in the case when they were called to an April 2, 2010 report of a domestic assault in Cheyenne, Wyo., and it lead to a five-hour standoff with police, according to federal and Kimball County court documents. Ash, a convicted felon, was arrested and tried on federal firearms charges as a result of the incident.
As part of that incident, authorities questioning Ash and Meehan were able to learn information that lead to the discovery of Guitron’s body on April 8, 2010. Guitron had lived with Ash when his girlfriend reported him missing in November 2003 and the crime had remained unsolved until Ash’s April 2010 arrest. According to Kimball County court documents, Ash had previously been questioned in connection with Guitron’s disappearance after he had been arrested on a warrant in October 2003. He had been in possession of items of Guitron’s and had even been connected to a sale of a vehicle owned by Guitron.
According to Kimball County court records, during separate interviews, Ash and Meehan told investigators different stories about the events that lead to Guitron’s death. Ash told police that he had killed Guitron in self-defense, saying that Guitron had threatened him with a rifle. Court documents state that Meehan told authorities that Ash had planned to kill Guitron for days prior to the murder. She said that Ash had found Guitron to be in possession of a bra and underwear of hers and indicated he would kill the man.
She initially denied being involved in the murder, but admitted to authorities in July that she had hid the weapon used in the homicide en route to Bushnell and put it in a spot for Ash to retrieve before shooting Guitron.
Guitron had believed the three were traveling to a location to purchase methamphetamine or supplies to manufacture methamphetamine. Court documents place the date of Guitron’s death as sometime between Oct. 15, 2003, the last day he was seen by others alive, and Oct. 18, 2003, the date that Ash had been arrested in Kersey, Colo.
Initially, Meehan and Ash had told authorities that the homicide had occurred in Laramie County, Wyo., but the location of the abandoned farmstead was in Kimball County. Ash lead authorities to the abandoned farmstead, which is located on Road 18 South. Meehan also identified the farmstead as the property where the homicide had occurred. Authorities obtained a search warrant and found Guitron’s body covered by a woodpile, as described by Meehan.
The investigation involved the Nebraska State Patrol; Larimer County Sheriff’s Office, Fort Collins, Colo.; Laramie County Sheriff’s Department, Cheyenne, Wyo.; the U.S. Marshals Service; and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Cheyenne field office.
Ash is being held in the Scotts Bluff County Detention Center with no bond. He is scheduled to appear in Kimball County District Court on Nov. 1 for arraignment on the murder charge after waiving a preliminary hearing in county court.
Meehan is being held in a Minnesota federal prison. A $1 million bond has been set in the Kimball County case. She has not yet been scheduled for arraignment in the Kimball County case.