Two American Indians charged with killing another Indian appeared Wednesday before U.S. Magistrate Ronald Boyce, who refused to release either of the suspects on bail.
Charlie Headdress Jr., 23, and Royja Kelly Ankerpont, 21, will remain in the Salt Lake County Jail, charged with "premeditated murder in Indian Country."They are accused of murdering Tilford Tapoof, 23, Whiterocks, Uintah County, who was choked, dragged behind a car and then stoned to death, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court.
Attorneys for the suspects tried to persuade Boyce to release the men to the custody of their parents.
But Boyce sided with assistant U.S. attorney Barbara Bearnson, who argued that the "grisly nature of the crime" shows that Headdress and Ankerpont are too high a danger to society to be released from custody.
Boyce singled out Ankerpont, who he said has a "significant record" of assaults. Though Headdress' criminal record contains a few minor misdemeanors, Boyce said he's not going to release him because of the nature of the crime for which he is now charged and because of an alcohol problem that Headdress seems to deny.
According to the complaint, Ankerpont and his mother contacted a Bureau of Indian Affairs officer about 7:30 a.m. Friday and led him to Tapoof's body, in a concrete culvert on Whiterocks Road. "Tapoof had been beaten so badly that he was barely recognizable."
Ankerpont told investigators that Headdress and a male juvenile beat and strangled Tapoof.
The juvenile told investigators that Ankerpont was also involved. He said the three tried to strangle Tapoof with jumper cables. When that didn't work, they attempted to drag him behind Ankerpont's 1969 Chevrolet. When Tapoof still showed signs of life, the three suspects took him into the culvert and pelted him with rocks until "he appeared to stop breathing," the complaint states.
Headdress corroborated the juvenile's story, the complaint states.
Ankerpont is a Sioux Indian from Montana. Headdress and the juvenile, whom authorities refuse to name, are Utes.
Bureau of Indian Affairs Capt. Ed Reynolds said Tapoof and the three suspects had been riding around and drinking together in the early morning hours of Friday when an argument ensued.
The case is expected to go to a federal grand jury Dec. 13. Boyce scheduled Headdress and Anker-pont to appear for arraignment Dec. 14.
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