Drugs are blamed in death of woman

Published: Wednesday, June 29 2005 9:08 a.m. MDT

Davis County crime lab detective Brian Marley looks for physical evidence Tuesday near Skyline Drive in Bountiful in Amelia Sorich's death.

Tyler Sipe, Deseret Morning News

Police say a missing 18-year-old South Jordan woman overdosed on drugs before her body was dumped by a panicked friend in the foothills above Bountiful.

The body of Amelia Sorich was discovered about 7:40 p.m. Monday by hikers about three miles north of the Bountiful "B" in Bountiful Canyon. Her body was in a ravine about 100 feet off the main dirt road. She had been missing since Saturday.

The Utah state medical examiner positively identified the body Tuesday. The cause of death was determined to be a fatal drug-overdose mixture of cocaine and heroin.

South Jordan Police Sgt. Dan Starks said detectives determined through interviews that Sorich voluntarily took the potent cocaine-heroin mixture, also known as an "eight ball."

Late Tuesday afternoon, police booked two adults, a 19-year-old male and an 18-year-old female, into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of desecration of a dead body and evidence tampering.

Michael Bellows, Sorich's LDS bishop, said family and friends of the woman are devastated. He said everyone in her LDS ward who knew her is in disbelief about the way she died.

"No one really believes she was involved in drugs," he said.

Sorich graduated from Bingham High School earlier this month, Bellows said, and was working two jobs while preparing to attend college this fall. He said she was a good student, excelling in math, and when he saw her on graduation day, he said, "there was no indication whatsoever" that she was a drug user. Bellows has known Amelia nearly six years.

Just as news of the body's discovery was becoming public Tuesday morning, a 19-year-old Holladay man walked into South Jordan police headquarters and told investigators he knew what happened to the missing woman and where to find her.

The male had been interviewed the night before until 2 a.m. Between 9 and 10 a.m. Tuesday, he went back voluntarily to offer what he knew, Starks said.

"His conscience apparently got the better of him," Starks said.

After the man was interviewed again Tuesday afternoon, he was arrested.

Investigators believe Sorich and the two others were partying at a home near 450 E. and 14000 South on Saturday evening about 11 p.m.

Sometime between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. Sunday, Sorich stopped breathing, became unconscious and began spitting up blood, Starks said. At some point her friends realized she was in trouble, apparently "freaked out" and panicked when they were unable to revive her, he said.

Rather than call police or paramedics, however, the male allegedly drove Sorich's body in her car to Bountiful Canyon. He then took her car to Salt Lake City, where he abandoned it at 600 North and 900 West, Starks said.

Tuesday afternoon, Draper police searched the female's home, where the three allegedly had their party. Her parents were away for the weekend, said Draper Police Sgt. Gerry Allred.

Investigators found evidence that confirmed Sorich was in the house, he said. They also found evidence that indicated the female knew the male was disposing of Sorich's body, Allred said. Police also believe the female may have tried to hide evidence that linked Sorich to the house that night, Allred said.

The investigation by Draper police was continuing Tuesday. Allred said detectives still need to determine at what point Sorich's friends knew she was dead and to what extent they were neglectful in rendering aid.

Police discovered Sorich's silver Volkswagen Jetta on Monday night. Starks said some blood was found in the back seat. Detectives also found her purse, cell phone, credit cards and other personal items in a nearby Dumpster.

South Jordan investigators went through the contacts listed on her cell phone and came across the name of the 19-year-old man. When police interviewed him the first time Monday night, he seemed "fidgety," Starks said. When he returned Tuesday morning to talk with investigators, Starks said he was unsure if the man knew at that point that Sorich's body had been found.

Sorich has three brothers, one of whom is flying home from out of the country to be with the family for the funeral, which hasn't yet been announced.


Contributing: Wendy Leonard

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com

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