The cause of death for Franklin “Kwin” Kuhlke, 27, who died Friday, is pending toxicology results that should be available in about a month.
“There were no gunshot or stab wounds or medical conditions, so it’s all going to come down to tox (toxicology),” La Plata County Coroner Jann Smith said Tuesday afternoon after the autopsy was conducted. “We’re not even sure what we’re looking for. A DPD (Durango Police Department) investigator walked around the house and the area and didn’t find anything.”
There was some information from witnesses that “diet” pills might be involved in his death. Smith said the pills contained three spices, cinnamon, turmeric and cayenne, but she didn’t know if anything else had been mixed with them.
“This kid did not do drugs,” said Lisa Gibson, the owner of Derailed Pour House, where Kuhlke had worked since he arrived in Durango in June. “He hated pot, and we have a pretty strict policy about no drinking or marijuana on the job. I called him my Budweiser kid, because the only thing I ever saw him drink was Bud out of the can.”
Kuhlke had created a large circle of friends in just a few months, his roommate Kyle Pickett said. Originally from Georgia, he lived in Omaha, Nebraska, for several years before moving to Durango.
“Kwin was very accepting of everyone and made friends with everyone from tourists to locals who have been here forever,” he said. “He really did love a lot of different people and was always there to lend an ear or a hand. I never heard him turn anyone down who needed help. He was very kind.”
Kuhlke, whose Facebook page and Go Fund Me site are in the name Franklin Cabot Elsey, was the kind of server who remembered everyone’s order without writing it down, Pickett said.
“He brought a light,” Gibson said. “We’ll miss his laugh and his singing as he served. He was really loved here.”
Kuhlke served in the Army for a year, said Pickett, who is also a veteran.
“He had a medical discharge for two broken ankles,” Pickett said, “but he had a lot of respect for the military.”
Kuhlke was set to make his acting debut as Rocky in “Rocky Horror Picture Show” at the Henry Strater Theatre on Friday, Pickett said, and he had modeled for several years in the Omaha area. His musical inspirations were Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley.
“He loved singing karaoke at the 8th Street Tavern,” Gibson said, “and looking at his hair in the mirror. We all have demons, and we all question who we are and what our purpose is. Kwin was starting to find his purpose here.”