Steven Unruh is having a hard time convincing anyone that he spent hours talking to Aurora theater shootings suspect James Holmes shortly after his arrest last July. Jail officials say there’s no way that Unruh could have had that kind of access. Yet certain elements of the story — which includes a description that resembles the headbanging routine that sent Holmes to the hospital last week — have been attracting attention from law enforcement and even families of the shooting victims.
“They’re going to try to discredit my story,” Unruh told Westword in a recent interview at the jail. “But I was able to have a four-hour talk with him. I talked him out of suicide.”
There are plenty of reasons to be skeptical of the tale presented by Unruh, a 38-year-old inmate with a long history of drug and theft charges. To begin with, his account of what Holmes supposedly told him is as bizarre as a William S. Burroughs fever dream. Also, Unruh just got out of prison last January after serving six years for methamphetamine and credit-card fraud convictions, and he says he’s been diagnosed as having a bipolar condition.
“It’s always been meth with me,” he says. “If I drink a beer or something, I’ve got the voices in my head that drive me to do more drugs. I’m really weak-minded.”
He’s going public with his account of an encounter with Holmes, he says, only after first trying to interest the Arapahoe County District Attorney’s Office in his story. He’s currently facing habitual criminal charges and had hoped to deal his way into mental health treatment rather than a twelve-year prison sentence. Although an investigator visited him, “the DA hasn’t been working with me,” he sighs.