Columbia paper reports policeman who knew Valencia takes leave

June 10, 2004

COLUMBIA, Mo.— A newspaper here is reporting that a police officer is on a personal leave of absence after questions were raised about his relationship with Jesse James Valencia.

Valencia, 23, a 1999 Boyle County High School graduate, was found murdered,his throat slashed, Saturday near his apartment in Columbia. He was attending the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Though Valencia was known in the gay and lesbian community, police have said

they are not investigating the murder as a hate crime, reports the Columbia Daily Tribune.

Valencia’s grandmother, Connie Baugh of Perryville, said Wednesday that her grandson was not gay, despite the implications of news reports on the investigation.

She said he had gay friends, but never had affairs with any of them.

Baugh said authorities are giving little information to the family about the investigation.

Columbia Police Chief Randy Boehm confirmed a personal relationship between Valencia and one of his officers, but said that the officer is not a suspect.


He would not define the relationship further or provide the officer’s name.

Police began their investigation in a nightclub which serves the gay and lesbian community, passing out fliers and interviewing patrons. Valencia was known by some at the club.

The chief announced the relationship between Valencia and his officer Wednesday in an attempt to squelch rumors, he told the Tribune. He said numerous tips had come in that Valencia was involved with a married male officer.

Police Capt. Mike Martin told the Tribune that the tips suggested it may have been the same officer who arrested Valencia April 18 for obstructing a government operation.

He said the charge implies interference in the arrest of another person.

Police would not give the details of the arrest or provide a copy of the report.

"We have thoroughly investigated all information we have related to this case," Boehm told the newspaper. "This information was handled in the same way as all other tips we received, and we have nothing to indicate this officer as a suspect.

"At this point, the leave is not related to any suspension or disciplinary action," Boehm said. "Having a personal relationship by itself is not necessarily cause for disciplinary action. He would have to have done something to violate our rules or policies.

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