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Teen charged with murder in the attack on difficult-to-youth ranch

The attack unfolded on a ranch in southern Utah.

(Fox 13)

An Arizona teenager was charged with aggravated murder Friday in the brutal murder of an employee at a southern Utah ranch for troubled children and young people.

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Clay Brewer, 17, attacked the man from behind with a weapon when he came to check on a group of teenagers sitting around a campfire on a cold morning, police said.

The teenager continued to the Tuesday attack after Jimmy Woolsey, 61, fell to the ground, according to Garfield County Sheriff James Perkins. Brewer also stores a second member of staff who came to help and took her car before he was arrested on the way to the small town of Escalante, about 300 kilometres south of Salt Lake City.

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Prosecutors filed eight charges Friday that also attempted aggravated murder and robbery in the attack. He was directly charged as an adult under Utah laws of the country where severe cases bypass juvenile court.

The teenager, the grandfather of Coleman Brewer said by phone that the family is devastated by what happened. He said that the family sent him to the Turn-About Ranch because of drug problems.

“He has always been a really good boy, he is just mixed up in some drugs,” said Coleman Brewer, of Snowflake, Arizona. He refused to say more, say the lawyers told the family not to talk.

It was immediately known that the lawyer for the accused.

Brouwer attacked the staff members because he wanted to leave, not because of a grudge, police have said.

After the attack began, the other teens ran inside to a hut in the neighbourhood, where they sleep, and told another staff member, Alicia Keller. She came running out, and the teen attacked her. They struggled with the teenager as he tried to force his way in. She was bleeding profusely after being struck in the head, but held her ground, said Perkins said.

The teen tried to flee the scene in Woolsey’s truck, but could not get it started. He came back threatening to break a cabin window, and Keller threw him her car keys.

The teen was arrested after deputies on their way to the ranch saw him ride Keller’s stolen car in the nearby Escalante, about 3 km from the ranch.

Woolsey died of blunt trauma to the head. He is survived by his wife and a 10-year-old daughter, Perkins said, calling Woolsey a jovial, well-liked man.

The ranch was featured in 2010 episode of Dr. Phil, including Turn-About Ranch is on the list of recommended treatment centers.

State regulators say the ranch has not previously had any major violations with the state or violent incidents.

The working cattle ranch says on their website that they do not take children who are aggressive, psychotic or suicidal behavior, but offer to help children with anger problems.

Teenagers there spend their days in a high level of supervision, at the foot structured program where they do chores, while also doing school work and the meeting with the counselors and the young usually remain for approximately 100 days. Photos on the website show teens horses, herding cattle, chopping wood and milking cows.

Perkins said that his office has responded a couple of times over the years to reports of young people leaving the treatment center, but said it was usually quiet.

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