Sheriff’s Office: Husband says wife killed their son before turning gun on herself

Asher Lesyshen-Kirlan, 9, pictured May 23 at Bear River Skate Park, was killed Wednesday morning in a suspected homicide, according to the Routt County Sheriff’s Office.

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Steamboat Springs School District officials have assembled a crisis management team to meet with parents and students Wednesday in the wake of a death of a third-grade student.

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Routt County Coroner Rob Ryg is joined by investigators from the Routt County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday at the Stagecoach home where it is thought a mother shot and killed her 9-year-old son early Wednesday morning before turning the gun on herself.

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Routt County Chief Deputy District Attorney Rusty Prindle came to the residence to help with the investigation.

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The Routt County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a suspected homicide related to the death of a Soda Creek Elementary School third-grader. A Sheriff’s Office deputy is on scene at this home at 23935 Arapahoe Road in Stagecoach. The home is the same location where authorities were called to a report of a suicide or suicide attempt just before 3 a.m. Wednesday, according to Routt County Communications records. The Routt County Assessor’s Office database lists the home’s owners as Michael Kirlan and Lisa Lesyshen.

— A Stagecoach mom shot and killed her 9-year-old son early Wednesday morning before turning the gun on herself, according to a preliminary investigation by the Routt County Sheriff’s Office.

Lisa Marie Lesyshen, 45, was found by Sheriff’s Office deputies in her home in the early hours of Wednesday. She was unconscious with a single gunshot wound and was taken by ambulance to Yampa Valley Medical Center and later flown to another hospital where she is being guarded by Sheriff's Office deputies, according to Undersheriff Ray Birch. Her condition is unknown, but law enforcement officials think she is alive but has not regained consciousness.

Asher Lesyshen-Kirlan was found dead inside the home. He was a third-grader at Soda Creek Elementary School in Steamboat Springs.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, deputies were called by Michael Kirlan, Asher’s father, to the home near the south shore of Stagecoach Reservoir at 2:55 a.m. for a reported suicide attempt with multiple victims.

The deputies were met by Kirlan, who told them his son was dead inside the home and that his wife, Lesyshen, was upstairs with a gun. Deputies entered the home and found Asher’s body, and then discovered Lesyshen.

“A preliminary interview of Michael Kirlan suggests that his wife, Lisa Lesyshen, shot their son Asher and then shot herself,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

At a news conference Wednesday evening, Sheriff Garrett Wiggins said Kirlan was asleep and heard a loud noise.

“Right after that, he heard what he thought were gunshots,” Wiggins said.

Birch and Wiggins refused to discuss possible motives for the shooting.

“I don’t want to speculate on those things at this point,” Wiggins said.

A post made from Kirlan's Facebook account and timestamped at about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday included a photo of a woman and a caption alleging an affair. It is not clear who made the post using his account, and the photo had been removed by midday Wednesday. The Steamboat Pilot & Today was able to identify the woman in the photo, who does not live in Routt County, and reached her by phone Wednesday afternoon. The woman acknowledged being aware of what had happened to Kirlan's family but declined to comment further.

Birch declined to comment about the Facebook post and whether it was part of the investigation. A friend of Kirlan's answered Kirlan's cellphone Wednesday evening and also declined to comment.

The Sheriff’s Office is continuing to investigate the incident as a homicide. The Routt County Coroner’s Office, the 14th Judicial District Attorney’s Office and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation are helping with the investigation. An autopsy was completed Wednesday afternoon in Kremmling, but the results were not immediately available.

In Steamboat Springs, a crisis management team met with parents at Soda Creek Elementary School on Wednesday morning to inform them of Asher’s death and to help prepare them for discussing the incident with their children.

Superintendent Brad Meeks said Soda Creek Principal Michele Miller was contacted by the Sheriff’s Office early Wednesday. The crisis management team was in place and at the school by about 9 a.m. Parents of students then were called to the school to meet with the team.

“We want to make sure the parents are prepared to talk to their children when they come home,” Meeks said.

Some parents left the downtown school Wednesday morning with their children; other parents were exiting the school without their kids. The school day continued as scheduled Wednesday.

Brad Price, the parent of a third-grader, was one of the parents walking out of the school Wednesday morning. When asked how students were reacting to the news, he said it depended on the child and their relationship with their deceased classmate.

"It's hard in there right now," Price said.

“Shock and just a lot of emotion that goes with it,” Meeks said about the response of staff at the school.

“The students, they respond to the adults around them. I think our teachers are going to be as supportive as possible.”

Kirlan and Lesyshen formerly owned Steamboat Vino and Vidalia Market in the Sundance at Fish Creek shopping center. They purchased their Stagecoach home in September 1999, and Asher was born less than five years later.

Lesyshen worked at Bud Werner Memorial Library. According to Wiggins, Kirlan was in sales and traveled frequently.

There are no relevant court cases, such as family disputes, involving the couple on record at the Routt County Courthouse.

According to Steamboat Today archives, Asher was a regular participant in local ski jumping events as well as the Town Challenge Mountain Bike Race Series. He was featured in a May 24 Steamboat Today Outdoors story about improvements at the city-owned Bear River Skate Park.

There also are videos of Asher playing the violin, posted several years ago by a YouTube user with an account name of "lisalesyshen."

Denver resident Jamie Adams, Kirlan's friend who answered Kirlan's phone Wednesday, said it was still too early for them to talk about the tragedy.

"He was an amazing person, and we're all shocked by this whole thing," Adams said.

Violence in Routt County

This is the fourth case involving attempted murder and suicide in Routt County since September 2007.

In July 2012, Larry Appel shot his wife of 42 years before taking his own life at their rural Routt County home southwest of Steamboat Springs. Their bodies were found by family members after Chris Appel did not show up to work. At the time, family members thought the couple’s difficult financial times led to their deaths.

In June 2010, Robert Cash shot his then-wife Rhonda Heaton at their west Steamboat Springs home, then shot himself as law enforcement officials arrived. The couple was going through a divorce and was in the process of losing their home to foreclosure. Heaton survived, and in April 2012, Cash was found guilty of domestic violence and crime of violence, and he was sentenced to 38 years in prison.

In September 2007, Luz Cisneros killed her 1-year-old daughter with a knife after her longtime boyfriend and the father of her child ended their relationship. Cisneros cut her own throat after killing the infant. In 2008, a jury found Cisneros guilty of first-degree murder. A local judge sentenced her to life in prison with no possibility of parole.

Asher Lesyshen-Kirlan plays the violin

Map: Stagecoach homicide investigation


View 23935 Arapahoe Road, Oak Creek in a larger map

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Sheriff Garrett Wiggins' remarks at press conference

Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins discusses the investigation into the death of Soda Creek Elementary School third-grader Asher Lesyshen-Kirlan.

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Superintendent Brad Meeks on how district handled news

Steamboat Springs School District Superintendent Brad Meeks talks about how the district handled Wednesday's tragic news.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com