1 of 3
Michael Brandy, Deseret Morning News
Destiny Norton's uncle, Peter Brooks, is conforted by a family friend Monday night.

The search for 5-year-old Destiny Norton ended in tragedy as police recovered the little girl's body Monday night.

Destiny's body was discovered in the basement of a home just two buildings behind her own home, from which she vanished on July 16.

"I can't understand how someone can do this to a child," sobbed Destiny's uncle, Peter Brooks.

Police arrested Craig Roger Gregerson, 20, for investigation of criminal homicide. He was being questioned by police and FBI agents overnight and was expected to be booked into the Salt Lake County Jail early today. Investigators found Destiny's body about 8:30 p.m. Monday in the basement of the home at 518 E. Elwood Place.

"No parent should have to endure a tragedy of this nature," Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank said in making the announcement at a press conference. "The thoughts and prayers of the entire community go out to them."

Burbank said police detectives and FBI agents had developed information about Gregerson, who lived alone in the home just two doors behind Destiny's home near 700 South and 500 East.

Salt Lake City Police and the FBI refused to release any more information Monday night.

Some of Destiny's family and friends were furious at law enforcement. Brooks said investigators had assured the family that they had searched every home in the area, several times.

"They found her in one of the apartments," family friend Jeannie Hill said. "They told us they'd searched these buildings four (expletive) times. They did not do their job."

People gathered outside the home of Ricky and Rachael Norton after the news broke were clearly angry and began shouting at police, frustrated that officers did not find Destiny sooner.

"The cops came around and harassed the whole neighborhood. They searched my house three times real well," said Scott Seaman who lives in the neighborhood.

Many of the people the Deseret Morning News had talked to Monday night said they did not know Gregerson.

Officials at the Salt Lake County Jail said Gregerson had been booked once before. In December 2004, Salt Lake County sheriff's deputies said he had been booked into jail for assault related to a domestic violence incident.

The discovery of Destiny Norton's body and Gregerson's arrest capped an intensive, weeklong search for the little girl with streaks of green in her blonde hair and a row of silver teeth in her mischievous smile. She vanished July 16 after walking outside her home.

An Amber Alert was issued and a neighborhood search began. The Amber Alert was canceled a short time later after a 51-year-old man was located, questioned about her disappearance and released.

Destiny's parents, family and friends endured hours of interrogations by police investigators. Rachael Norton said the family took polygraph tests and passed them. Throughout the week, police and crime scene technicians visited the family's home to seize items of potential evidence, including a two foot section of wall containing Destiny's palm print.

During the week, hundreds of people turned out in the hot summer temperatures to search for Destiny. They scoured alleys and backyards, searched in garbage cans and Dumpsters and poked around bushes. The searches centered in Destiny's neighborhood, where police and FBI agents were seen repeatedly.

"I would want someone out looking if it were my daughter," said Kathleen Haney, who put up fliers of Destiny from North Ogden to Spanish Fork.

On Sunday night, police thought they had caught a break when they issued an Amber Alert in Farmington. A man showed up at a Conoco station near U.S. 89 and Shepard Lane with a girl that a clerk believed was Destiny Norton.

The Amber Alert was canceled early Monday until police realized that another vehicle may have been involved. That afternoon, police released a sketch of the man the clerk saw with the girl believed to be Destiny. It was not.

1 comment on this story

Monday night, more than a hundred people gathered outside the Norton home to chant, light candles and pray. They dubbed themselves "The Downtown Street Family." The Nortons and others in the home had spent time on the streets in the past and were bringing themselves up in the world, getting jobs and sharing rent to make a new start.

"This is the day a beautiful child went back to heaven and a sick man will go down," Brooks told the crowd. "They thought this would tear us apart. It's only made us stronger."

About midnight, Chief Burbank showed up to address the angry crowd.

"Until this moment, there was no crime scene. No specific evidence. Police had nothing," he said. "This is not the proper way to honor Destiny. All we can do is keep this from happening again."


E-mail: bwinslow@desnews.com; wleonard@desnews.com