‘Nothing will bring Carl back, but we need closure’

Weeks after fatal hit-and-run, victim’s loved ones plead for justice

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Lisa Paris doesn’t wake up to breakfast and flowers anymore.

Paris spent the last decade loving Carl Howard, and he loved her back.

Howard, 54, was struck and killed while riding his bicycle on the evening of June 23. He was hit by a driver in a dark pickup truck just blocks from Paris’ home in Englewood. Howard’s killer remains at large.

Every day, Paris walks the three blocks from her home to the corner of South Bannock Street and West Radcliff Avenue, where Howard was struck. She and others have built a small memorial against a fire hydrant adorned with flowers, plaques and pinwheels. A flier seeking help finding Howard’s killer hangs from a stop sign.

Paris said she visits the memorial to light candles, pick up the dead flowers, and commune with the spirit of the man whose kind eyes gave her butterflies from the moment they met.

“It was just out of nowhere,” Paris said. “I don’t see why whoever hit him won’t come forward. They took him from my daughter and everyone who cared about him and just left. Nothing will bring Carl back, but we need closure.”

She feels his absence most in the morning. Howard liked to wake up early, as did Paris’ daughter, 2-year-old Dalylah. The pair would let Mom sleep in until breakfast was ready. Paris said Howard often brought her flowers that he got by asking neighbors if he could pluck a blossom for his sweetheart or by gathering discarded blooms from Banister’s Flowers just around the corner.

Howard, who had two sons of his own from a prior marriage, loved Dalylah like his own.

“They just lit up when they saw each other,” Paris said. “She brought such joy and energy to Carl’s life.”

Around Paris’ house are reminders of Howard. A weeping willow tree growing from a sprig from one of his bouquets. A swing for Dalylah he brought home on his bike.

“Everything I do reminds me of him,” Paris said.

Paris tries to keep her grief from Dalylah.

“She’s just a 2-year-old,” Paris said. “She needs me to take care of her and not let my emotions rub off on her. I just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other, especially now that I don’t have that person in my life to help raise her. I’m just hoping whoever did this to us comes forward so we can start to move on.”

Howard left many broken hearts around town. Brenda Sleigh, who lives near Englewood’s Belleview Park, called Howard “as much of a best friend as a man can be.”

“Men don’t always listen,” Sleigh said. “Carl listened. I could vent to him. He was so polite and well-spoken.”

Howard had endured hard times, Sleigh said. He had struggled with addiction, recovered from a car accident, and mainly rode a bicycle after losing his driver’s license years ago. His first wife passed away. A former mechanic and roofer, Howard had trouble working after breaking his arms in a fall from a roof.

Sleigh said she could always count on Howard, who helped out with her annual yard sales. When a fire scorched the side of her shed a few years ago, Sleigh didn’t have money to fix it, so Howard showed up the next day with paint and brushes and helped her paint over the damage.

“He was a good man,” Sleigh said. “A good father. A good friend.”

Paris, Howard’s girlfriend, said she is still haunted by the last thing she told him: To take a flashlight with him before he hopped on his bike toward his sister’s house just after dusk on June 23.

“He told me he always rode without a flashlight, and he’d always been fine,” Paris said. “He was stubborn. Maybe I should have made him take it.”

Shortly afterward, a neighbor knocked on Paris’ door. She had seen Howard’s bike lying in the street, surrounded by police and paramedics.

That night, Paris sat in the Swedish Medical Center emergency room for six excruciating hours before she found out Howard was gone. When she went to see him, she gave him a final kiss on the forehead. His head was cold, but his chest was still warm, she recalled.

On June 24, Englewood Police released their initial description of the suspect vehicle: a dark-colored pickup truck. On July 9, they updated the description: a dark silver 2014-2016 Dodge Ram 1500 quad-cab truck with a bed covering, chrome-colored full-length running boards, tinted windows, chrome front and rear bumpers, and black mirrors with turn signal lights in the mirror housing.

No arrest had yet been made as of July 17. The investigation is ongoing, and detectives continue to follow up on leads, Englewood Police investigator Scot Allen said in an email. Metro Denver Crime Stoppers is offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

Sleigh, Howard’s longtime friend, had a message for his killer.

“Come forward,” Sleigh said. “Face whatever you have to face. Carl, his family, all of us deserve peace. Man up.”

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