Terra Sigillata

As a former resident of The Queen City of the Plains, my goal today was to write some travel tips for those bloggers attending the DNC in Denver next week.

However, I got a bit sidetracked by the case a couple of weeks ago about the gentleman who died of cyanide poisoning at a hotel near the Colorado State Capitol in Denver. You’ll recall that “a pound” of sodium cyanide was also found with his dead body in room 408 of The Burnsley Hotel at 10th Ave. & Grant St. one needs only 50-100 mg of sodium cyanide to kill oneself so I still don’t know what the other 453.9 grams was intended for.

The photos from the blogs and news media struck me because I know that corner, and not just because I used to have Thursday night happy hours with my students at Govnr’s Park around the Governor’s Mansion the street at 7th & Logan.

The PharmGirl, PharmKid and I spent what was to be three evenings at the Burnsley almost exactly three years ago – while the rates are a little steep, the Burnsley rooms are actually suites. Well, they are actually 1950s high-rise apartments that would have been converted into condos in other markets. Centrally located to downtown Denver and with killer views of the Front Range, the Burnsley is a great homebase from which to explore downtown amenities, historical sites, and then points west. They also have a terrific on-site restaurant from which we ordered room service due to our late arrival.

On our first night at the Burnsley (which happened to be our wedding anniversary) we were awakened by the sounds of gunshots at about 2 am. Well, PharmGirl was awakened by gunshots and I said I was going back to sleep because I thought it was merely a car backfiring (I believe that I also drank most of the celebratory anniversary bottle of champagne).

Well, a look down to the intersection below revealed a number of police cars around a compact car, huge blood smears on the road, and an ambulance heading off. I learned later that this was the story:

Michael Hope, 24, and Qutice McGaughy, 27, were sitting in a black Dodge Neon on 10th and Grant when they were shot. It happened shortly after 2 a.m. A third person in the car was not injured, but police said he refused to cooperate with the investigation. The victims are also known as ‘Innerstate Ike’ and ‘Cac’.

The rappers grew up in Montbello and wanted to give young people hope for a better life. Ike and Cac handed out their CD’s for free at local recreation centers. Both of the victims have children. Their family and friends said they are at a loss for why someone would want to hurt the rising stars. (also video from CBS4Denver)

In fact, the gentlemen were to play a benefit concert the next day for children with autism. As one might suspect, the case has never been solved to my knowledge. I suspect that the third person in the car knows exactly what went down but feared for his/her own life.

I mention the cyanide case and our coincidental family experience merely because the American West and Southwest is full of places perceived as mystical, such as the energy vortexes of Sedona, Arizona. Such superstition has no place on a scientific blog. But I will say that we ended up canceling our other two nights at the Burnsley and headed south to stay with some old friends.


I can’t seem to find any new information on the rapper who was killed or his colleague who survived. However, both gentlemen had young children at the time. I found a post-it note while cleaning up my old office that reminded me a fund was set up to support the kids:

McGaughy Hope Fund
c/o USBANK
4590 Peoria St.
Denver, CO 80239

There is also an online donation site.