A Colorado Springs man accused in the fatal shooting of his estranged wife hunted her relentlessly, despite her having multiple restraining orders against him and going into hiding with her daughter, according to court testimony Friday.
Colorado Springs police say that Mark Christopher Peters, 46, was so intent on killing Michelle Ann Peters that he abducted one of her family friends at gunpoint and forced him to call the mother of four and trick her into disclosing her new address.
Armed with that information, authorities say, Peters waited a day before making a deadly house call in the 3400 block of Galleria Terrace on the city’s southeast side on the evening of July 13.
Disguised in a black wig and carrying a sheaf of pamphlets, he rang the bell and stood with his back to the door.
When the woman’s daughter answered, expecting a saleswoman, Mark Peters shoved in an arm emblazoned with tattoos, a black pistol in his hand, authorities say. Michelle Peters and her daughter frantically tried to slam the door shut when Peters fired a single round through it, hitting his estranged wife in the face at point-blank range.
Michelle Peters’ daughter and a second woman inside that day saw him clearly enough to identify him, authorities say.
“This isn’t a whodunit,” prosecutor Andrew Lower said at the conclusion of a daylong hearing, framing it as an open-and-shut case of brazen murder. Aside from the eyewitnesses, prosecutors cited neighbors’ surveillance footage of him in his disguise and the defendant’s admissions to two other people that he was the killer.
The disturbing killing is the latest in the Pikes Peak region to underscore the limits of protections available to victims of stalking and domestic abuse.
After splitting up with her husband in February, Michelle Peters moved in with her daughter to get away from him, keeping their new address a secret. She went so far as to travel “back roads and side roads” on her way to and from work, so as to throw off her estranged husband in case he was tailing her, detective Wayne Bichel testified.
Mark Peters mocked the restraining orders she had obtained in May and again earlier in July, taunting her in text messages, “You think you’re protected but you’re not,” and calling it a “personal project” to terrorize her.
“I will never stop as long as there’s breath in my lungs,” Peters seethed in one of dozens of threatening messages to her, police say.
To deliver on his threats, police say, Mark Peters forced a family friend known as “Poppy” to get his wife to reveal where she was in hiding.
Contacted by police after the woman’s murder, the friend said he had no choice but to do as he was told. He told investigators that Mark Peters showed up at his home a day before the murder and jammed a pistol in his arm. The man said he was abducted and taken to the home of a woman who associated with Peters. There, he was tied up in a garage and forced to call the victim, telling her he needed her address in order to deliver car parts to her.
After passing the information along to the defendant, Poppy didn’t go to police, saying he was fearful of the consequences.
The woman whose home was used for the abduction likewise claimed she didn’t alert authorities because Mark Peters had threatened her life and that of her brother.
Neither Poppy nor the woman has been charged in the case, said prosecutor Margaret Vellar, declining further comment.
The portrait of an alleged stalker and revenge killer evoked parallels to the capital murder case against Glen Law Galloway, a convicted stalker who defied restraining orders and security alarms before killing his estranged girlfriend during a murder spree for which he was convicted in June and sentenced to life in prison rather than death.
Prosecutors haven’t said if they intend to seek the death penalty in Michelle Peters’ killing, but the defendant’s public defenders appear to be aware of the possibility.
The defense team includes a senior investigator previously assigned to defense teams for Galloway and Aurora theater shooter James Holmes, who likewise evaded the death penalty.
At the hearing’s conclusion, 4th Judicial District Judge Barbara Hughes ordered that Peters remain jailed without bond pending trial on multiple counts of first-degree murder and associated crimes, saying the evidence is strong enough to suggest he is likely to be convicted.
She scheduled an arraignment for Nov. 11.