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Published 2022-06-17
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Denver Spider Man - Criminal Who Hid In The Attic Like A Superhero?

When most people think of Spiderman they think of the friendly neighborhood spiderman that featured in Marvel comics as well as the Marvel and Sony movies. However, to the people of Denver in the 1940’s the name meant something completely different and not in a good way. Because to them, it was the nickname of a murdering drifter who disappeared without a trace and managed to evade police for nearly a year. Just how did he do it? Who exactly was the Denverman Spider? Who was his victim? And just how was he discovered? Read on to find out.

How Did The Story Start

When it comes to the story of the Denver Spiderman, it involved a murder that had perplexed the police in the Colorado state for nearly an entire year. Though as the introduction states the Spiderman was not a masked vigilante that could swing through the city after being bit by a radioactive spider. Though who exactly was he? Find out on the next page.

via GIPHY

Who Was The Denver Spiderman?

Theodore Coneys was born in Illinois in the 1880s and later in the 1910s moved to Denver where he remained until the end of his life. According to reports, as a child the man had poor health, which had continued to plague him into adulthood. As a result of his health problems, and possibly also due to the Great Depression, the man struggled to keep a job long-term and often would find himself without a place to live except for doorways or alleys around the city.

Meeting Philip Peters

At some point during his time in Denver Theodore met Philip Coneys at the Denver Guitar Club and they soon became acquainted. And this is why when he fell on hard times, Coneys would go to Peters’ house with hope to ask for some money or something to eat. However, around that time, the man’s wife was in hospital so in order to not be alone Philip would spend most of his free time with friends and family and so he was not home. Determined to find something to eat, Coneys broke into the house hoping to steal a bite. A few days after he tried to do the same thing again however that time he was caught by Philip.

How Did The Story Start

The Murder Of Philip Peters?

It was the night of October 17th, 1941, that Peters had discovered a tall, gaunt, man raiding his icebox, which was a compact non-mechanical refrigerator. It is not known whether he recognized the man as Theodore or not but a fight broke out between them. Coneys at one point grabbed a cast iron that was on the side and began beating the man to death with it before fleeing. Philip’s body was discovered later by his worried neighbors, and the police were called. They searched the house, but could not find any evidence of the murderer and some had commented that it was as if he had vanished into thin air.

via GIPHY

Investigation Into The Death

Though despite not being able to find any signs the detectives went in to investigate and dig into Peters’ past to search for enemies. Given that the assailant was nowhere to be seen and there was not much evidence they had hoped to find someone who had hated the man to want him dead. During that time Philip’s wife was released from hospital and returned home but she was not alone as friends moved in with her so that they could help her around the house. It was in the months following Mrs. Peters’s return, things began to take a weird turn. They had all reported odd things happening around the house such as food going missing, strange sounds, things out of place. This was enough to convince the group that the property was haunted and so the friends left and Mrs. Peters moved in with her son. But just what were these strange sounds?

Who Was The Denver Spiderman?

Police Take Over The Scene

And so with Philip dead and Mrs. Peters, living with her son, the house stood vacant. Yet despite that neighbors kept reporting strange sounds and disgusting smells coming from the property and despite the fact that officers came to check, there was nothing to be found. But then things took a turn on July 1942 when Denver Police decided to station two detectives, Roy Bloxom and Bill Jackson, outside the house. They decided to keep it under surveillance rather than waiting for a neighbor to call them. And it seems that their decision had paid off as the police officers had spotted a figure of a man inside the house. The two ran inside to apprehend him but to their surprise it was empty.

Meeting Philip Peters

Apprehending The Murderer

Given that there was nothing or no one they could see the officers were about to leave but then they heard a noise upstairs. They followed the source and came upon the doors to a closet. They had opened it just in time to see a pair of legs disappearing up into a small opening in the ceiling that led to the attic. Right away they grabbed the legs and pulled the person attached to them back down to the ground. And so they had caught their criminal.
The man was arrested and taken to the police station where he confessed to his crime and told them the entire story.

The Murder Of Philip Peters?

Coneys’ Confession

According to what Theodore told the police, the decision to beat Peters was a split-second one. He detailed how after the murder he decided to seek refuge in the attic, where he stayed until July. To verify his story the Denver police sent an officer that would be small enough to fit into the cramped attic where Coneys had made a home for himself. According to their reports the man collected his waste and had not bathed during the time he lived up there which meant the stench the officer was met with nearly made him vomit. Speaking about this to the press the officer in question Fred Zarnow had said: “A man would have to be a spider to stand it long up there.” Newspapers caught onto that and thus the man, in the press, was nicknamed The Denver Spider Man, creating a legend.

The Legend Lives On

Now if the idea of the Denver Spiderman seems similar to you that’s because the legend lives on. In the 50s Erle Stanley Gardner mentioned this case in his Cool and Lam novel Beware The Curves. The CSI series had updated the story to take place in the modern day in its season 2 episode Stalker back in 2002. At a live episode at the Boulder Theatre in 2017, co-host of the podcast "My Favorite Murder" Karen Kilgariff shared the story of the Denver Spider Man. But what happened to the real man after his arrest? He was charged and convicted of murder by a jury and sentenced to life in prison in October 1942. He was incarcerated at the state penitentiary in Canon City, and he remained there until his death on May 16th, 1967 at the age of 84. According to reports, he was buried in a nearby cemetery.

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