Prosecutors argued on Tuesday that a Utah man forced a teenager to kneel and watch her boyfriend getting stabbed to death before he cut her throat and threw her down a mine shaft.
The suspect was identified as 41-year-old Jerrod Baum from Mammoth, a semi-ghost town in northeastern Juab County, Utah.
According to court documents, Baum allegedly forced 17-year-old Brelynne “Breezy” Otteson to watch as he beat and stabbed her 18-year-old boyfriend, Riley Powell, to death. Baum killed the couple just a few moments after passing on good wishes to them as he believed that both Otteson and Powell were expecting a baby. However, it was later cleared that Otteson was not pregnant at the time of her death.
Chad Grunander, Utah County prosecutor did not elaborate why Baum believed that the teenager was pregnant.
Both Otteson and Powell were first reported missing on Jan. 2 from Eureka, a city in Juab County, Utah and their bodies were discovered nearly three months after, on March 28 from a deserted mine shaft, approximately 75 miles south of Salt Lake City, a press release from the Utah County Sheriff’s Office stated.
According to police officials, Baum killed the couple after they visited his 34-year-old girlfriend Morgan Henderson despite his continuous warning against her having any male visitors.
Police had been searching for the couple ever since they went missing and the breakthrough in the case came when Henderson was arrested in a separate case and ultimately led the authorities to the mine shaft.
Baum has had an encounter with law enforcement before his arrest for the couple’s slaying. Court documents that were presented on Tuesday stated that Baum told Henderson that he “never killed an innocent before”. However, he has been arrested before.
According to a report in a CBS-affiliated television station, KUTV-News, Baum was 15-year-old when he was tried as an adult for a crime spree, which also included an attempted murder charge.
He was accused of entering a Burger King facility and firing at employees while trying to rob it for which he took a plea deal. The murder charges against him were dropped without unfairness.
Reports state that Henderson supposedly witnessed the killings of the teens. She is currently being held on suspicion of obstruction of justice but Grunander adds that there is a possibility for additional charges to be pressed.
However, Grunander believes that Henderson was being threatened because of which she did not come forward earlier. “We obviously wish she would have come forward earlier. That would have saved additional grief for the family,” he said.
Eureka resident Kathy Garbett spoke about the incident and said, “We are a small town and somebody comes into town, and they have murderers all of a sudden. That’s scary; it’s very scary.”
“It’s disgusting, it’s disgraceful for those young kids to be treated like that,” she added.