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Benefit for American Elm shooting victims set for Saturday

For nearly four months the people Emerall Vaughn-Dahler called family and the relatives of Ignacio Gutierrez Morales have felt hollow and at the edge of a void. 

There has been no answer in the double murder at the American Elm restaurant that took their loved ones away from them. The crime remains unsolved. 

"I just don't want it to be forgotten," said Danica Woolard. 

The two considered each other sisters. Estranged from her own family, Vaughn-Dahler and her young son had lived with Danica Woolard and her family in Arvada for years. Danica's mother and father were the people Emerall called mom and dad.


"He was very innocent," explained Miguel Lopez about his father in-law Ignacio Gutierrez Morales. 

Most people knew his father in-law, who worked as a prep cook at the restaurant as "Nacho." 

"He avoided conflict," explained Lopez who is still troubled by the unsolved crime he wonders. "Someone knows something."

But in spite of that, there has been no answer. 


The double murder goes unsolved three and a half months after it happened late Monday morning April 24, when Vaughn-Dahler who was general manager and Gutierrez Morales, worked to get ready to open the restaurant later in the day. 

"It feels a little more discouraging every day that passes," said Woolard.

On Saturday afternoon August 12, families will get new support in a benefit at Clancy's Irish Pub at 7800 West 38th Ave. in Wheat Ridge

The money raised will go toward helping Crimestoppers, which has been pushing out a reward for information in the case. It currently stands at $25,000, but the families are hoping to raise it even more.  

Police continue to be tight lipped about the case. There are no suspects. Vaughn-Dahler was shot multiple times and Gutierrez Morales once. 


"It could be a robbery. It could have been some random person off the street, just decided to kill someone that day. Or it could be someone that knew one of them, we just don't know," said Woolard. 

Both families have searched their memories for motives, but have thought of nothing that would point investigators at a killer. Both were hard working and loved by the people they worked with and met. 

Still distressing about the shooting is the fact that police do not have a specific time. People who were outside working nearby did not hear the shooting take place.

The restaurant community has been supportive as the investigation has dragged on without an answer. More restaurant workers are expected at Clancy's Saturday as the bar hosts the benefit with music and food. It starts at 3 p.m.

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