UPDATE, 12:15 p.m. Thursday: Josiaz “JoJo” Aragon’s cause of death was “multiple sharp and blunt force injuries with a gunshot wound,” according to a Thursday press release from Denver’s Office of the Medical Examiner.
Denver police are asking for the public’s help in investigating the death of a 14-year-old boy.
According to police spokesperson Doug Schepman, Josiaz “JoJo” Aragon’s remains were found just before 3 p.m. Monday afternoon near the baseball field at the Southwest Recreation Center in the Martson neighborhood.
Though a cause of death has not been determined, Schepman said there were signs of trauma. DPD is investigating the death as a homicide.
Schepman said police believe Aragon died around 1 p.m. near the rec center, located at 9200 W. Saratoga Place.
Aragon would have turned 15 on Wednesday. Schepman added that Aragon’s family lives in north Denver and it’s currently “undetermined” why he was in the far southwest neighborhood.
“There has not been a direct link to Jojo and the rec center,” Schepman said. “We are still working to understand why he was in this area and with whom.”
Schepman said police are encouraging nearby residents to come forward with any information, especially if their homes face the rec center. He added that any footage from home cameras would also be helpful in the investigation.
“We’re really seeking the help of our community. They’re invaluable extra eyes and ears,” Schepman said. “If there was anyone in the area around 1:15 p.m. or before then who may have observed something or seen Jojo with others in that area. At the time it may not have seemed suspicious but in hindsight it could be information that’s valuable to our investigators.”
Jojo’s death marks the 60th homicide of the year. Schepman said Jojo is one of nine deaths under the age of 18.
According to Axios, Denver Police chief Paul Pazen said the city is on pace to exceed last year’s homicide totals, 96, and may break the city’s all-time high of 100 homicides set in 1981.
Violent and property crimes have spiked in recent years. Statewide data released in March indicated that violent crime, which counts homicides, aggravated assaults, sex assaults and robberies, was up 17% between 2019 and 2021. Murder was 47% in those two years.
Schepman said one of the leading causes of homicide over the last couple of years have been fights or altercations that lead to fatal violence, but he reiterated that in Jojo’s case it’s currently unclear what caused his death.
“We’re working hard and hoping that we don’t reach an all-time high number of homicides in the city for this year but we are trending in that direction, very sadly,” Schepman said.
Anyone with information can call Metro Denver Crime Stoppers at 720-913-7867. Callers can be anonymous and are eligible for a $2,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.