SALT LAKE CITY – Utah man tied up two teenagers, stabbed them to death and dumped their bodies in an abandoned mine shaft before they were reported missing nearly three months ago, police said Thursday.
Jerrod W. Baum, 41, was arrested on suspicion of aggravated murder, kidnapping, abuse of a dead body and other charges Wednesday, hours after police recovered the bodies on a shallow ledge in a deep mine shaft near Eureka, about 75 miles (120 kilometers) south of Salt Lake City.
Baum caught the two teens after they visited his girlfriend in their home, then bound them in their Jeep and drove to an abandoned mine where he killed them, the woman told the researchers. He said that he’d already warned her about having male friends at the house and “it was too bad because he has never killed an innocent before,” she said to the authorities, according to police documents.
He told her that he had made, Riley Powell, 18, suffering, but held the death of Brelynne “Airy” Otteson, 17, quick and painless, because he felt bad, Utah County Sheriff’s officials wrote.
Lawyer Michael Petro not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Relatives of the two teenagers said they didn’t know Baum, and were a tragic loss to explain what happened.
“What went wrong? Why has he so much hatred? There is no reason for that,” father Bill Powell told reporters.
“You don’t kill children out of jealousy,” Otteson aunt Amanda Hunt said, they found that their organs after nearly three months of searching, place at least a number of questions to rest.
Bodies believed to be Powell and Otteson were recovered after the police found a Facebook message thread in which the teens plan to go to the couple’s home on Dec. 29, shortly before they were reported missing, according to police documents.
Baum friend Morgan Henderson, 34, told police in January that the teenagers had come over, smoked marijuana with her and left, and that they had not seen them since. But then the police found an axe, a gun and knives in her car in an unrelated traffic stop on Sunday, she spoke with the researchers again.
The couple had come to the house, but when she left Baum came to find Henderson and showed her the teens were tied up in Powell’s Jeep. He put her in the car to go for a ride and talk,” and he took them all out on an abandoned mine site. He killed the teens, when he took her home and threatened her, police said.
Henderson dumped in the Jeep on a nearby reservoir, they told the police. A lawyer listed for her in a previous case not immediately return a call seeking comment.
More arrests in the case are possible, Utah County Sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Cannon said, although he did not elaborate.
Court records show Baum has a rap sheet dating back to the beginning of the 1990s, including theft, violence and weapons charges.
Last year, Baum and Henderson were found in a car in the vicinity of Yuba State Park with a tactical knife tucked in the small of his back and the other knife on a chain under his shirt, along with a container of meth, a handgun and prescription drugs, according to court records. He was convicted of weapon and drug possession in that case.
Baum was also accused of helping his friend load and stash a gun in their house earlier this year, despite the fact that it is excluded from the possession of a gun as a convicted felon. He has not yet entered a plea in that case.
Associated Press writer Michelle L. Price contributed to this report.