The Unsolved Casefile: Who Killed Kelly Acosta?

Posted at 7:04 AM, March 15, 2021 and last updated 1:06 PM, June 14, 2023

AURORA, Colo. (SCRIPPS) — It’s been more than four years, and the trail of whoever killed an Aurora bartender has gone cold. Friends of Kelly Acosta are still holding out hope that reward money will turn the tables and bring someone to justice.

“His picture is up on the wall. He was a Titans fan, so a Titans jersey up there as well,” bartender and friend Nick Riedel told KMGH-TV.

The Emerald Isle bar in Aurora isn’t decorated in green or tropical décor. Instead, pictures and pieces of memorabilia honoring Acosta, the former bartender, line the walls at the place he called a job and a second home.

“He didn’t have any enemies. Guy was very blessed. Never met a person that didn’t like him. Very heartwarming and gracious, just a wonderful dude,” Riedel said.

Acosta was shot and killed near his Aurora apartment complex in February 2017.

“We all cry everyday because we miss him so much. And the most important thing is we need some sort of peace with this. And until his killer is caught, we won’t have that peace,” bartender and friend Melanie Calkins told KMGH-TV six months after his death.

More than four years later, police now have no suspects, no descriptions, and no arrests made.

“It’s three years and still nothing. And I hate to say it, but you start to not think they’ll find the person,” Riedel said in 2020. “I feel the police are trying their best and it’s nothing against them. It’s just some of the people need to speak up and say what happened.”

Aurora police, Crime Stoppers, and other organizations are now offering up to $36,000 for information leading to an arrest. A fund from family and friends is adding thousands more.

Anonymous tipsters can call Metro Denver Crime Stoppers at (720) 913-7867.

“I think it would put you at peace a little. Nothing is going to bring him back, but it would be nice to know the person that took him from us – he or she or whoever – that they were put away and there was justice served for him,” Riedel said.

This story was originally published May 8, 2020, by Jason Gruenauer of KMGH-TV in Denver, Colorado.