Murdered Utah teen was forced to watch as killer stabbed her boyfriend and then slit her throat
The investigators in the case say that Baum did not want his girlfriend, Morgan Henderson, to have any male visitors and this may have been the motive for the murders
Prosecutors said on April 3 that a man in Utah, 41-year-old Jerrod Baum, forced a teenaged girl, Brelynne 'Breezy' Otteson, to kneel down and watch as her boyfriend, Riley Powell, was beaten and stabbed in front of her. She was then killed as well before both their bodies were thrown down a mine shaft.
Baum made Otteson watch as he beat and stabbed 18-year-old Powell in front of her.
In spite of Baum thinking that Otteson was pregnant, even though she wasn't, he slit the 17-year-old girl's throat and threw her body into the same shaft. Chad Grunander, the Utah County prosecutor, did not go into detail on why Baum thought Otteson was pregnant before he slit her throat.
Baum has been charged with eight felonies which include two counts of aggravated murder, kidnapping, and desecration of a human body. Investigators have said that Powell suffered a stab wound to his groin and that Baum could face the death penalty if he is convicted of the deaths of the teenagers.
The Daily Mail reported that the family members of both victims have said that they will stand behind a capital punishment case against Baum. All of them were there outside the court in Provo, Utah, and they spoke after the murderer appeared in court.
Billy Powell, the father of the boy victim, said: "He doesn't deserve a life. We as the taxpayers don't need to support him and give him a life because he took life." The victim's younger sister, Nikka Powell, wept as she spoke about how she would have to move on with life after her brother and his girlfriend died.
"They had a whole life to live," she said. "Me and my brother were so close, and I was so close to Breezy. We did everything together. And it's just hard to actually realize that they're gone now." The authorities have said that the young couple visited Baum's girlfriend in spite of him warning against her receiving any male visitors and that's why he killed them.
The teenaged couple had been missing for almost three months before their bodies were discovered in the now-abandoned mine last week. The mine is located about 75 miles south of Salt Lake City.
Investigators got a break in the case when 34-year-old Morgan Henderson, Baum's girlfriend, was arrested in another case that was being investigated and this led the police to the bodies. According to the authorities, Henderson may have been witness to the murders. She is currently being held on suspicion of obstruction of justice but Grunander has made it clear that there may be additional charges.
Henderson was pulled over last week in an unrelated traffic stop violation and the deputies ended up finding an axe, a rifle, and knives in her car. The story about the murders came out of her soon after.
Grunander said that Henderson is the only other person who is under investigation for the murders. Attorneys were not available on her behalf on April 3. The authorities are looking into why Henderson did not come forward sooner about the murders if she knew about them but Grunander said that she could have possibly been threatened.
"We obviously wish she would have come forward earlier," he said. "That would have saved additional grief for the family." If convicted without the prosecutors pursuing the death penalty for Baum, he could end up facing just 25 years to life behind bars.