ELKO, Nev. — A tearful Angela Hill seemed shocked and confused when she was informed by an Elko Justice Court judge Wednesday that she had been arrested for attempted murder.
"I don't understand what's going on," she cried.
Hill, 25, and Logan McFarland, 24, made their initial court appearances after being arrested Tuesday near the small town of Oasis, Nev., between Wendover and Wells. The two are accused of going on a crime spree that started in Utah and, according to investigators, included a carjacking in which the driver was shot in the head, a high-speed chase and a possible double homicide in Mt. Pleasant, Sanpete County.
Yet Hill told her mother Wednesday she, too, is a victim of McFarland.
Denise Atwood, of Fairview, Sanpete County, said her daughter told her from her jail cell that she is innocent. She claims McFarland beat her up and when she once tried to escape to a nearby farmhouse, he held a gun to her and told her she'd die if she tried to leave.
"In my heart, I feel like he was the instigator," Atwood said of McFarland, "and he's the one that had the power in this. I still truly believe that."
However, court documents state that Hill fired the shot that struck a woman in the back of the head after the couple carjacked and kidnapped her in West Wendover on Dec. 31. Hill was charged Wednesday in Elko Justice Court with attempted murder.
Other felony charges were filed Wednesday against both McFarland and Hill, including kidnapping with a deadly weapon, robbery with a deadly weapon, conspiracy to commit kidnapping and/or robbery, and committing a crime in a stolen vehicle.
Hill's bail was set at $102,000 cash only. McFarland's bail was set at $52,000 cash only. But Elko Justice Court Senior Judge Barbara Nethery informed both inmates during a brief video hearing from the jail that they each had two no-bail warrants out of Utah.
Both McFarland and Hill were charged in federal court with illegal flight to avoid prosecution. McFarland has also been charged in Sanpete County with burglarizing the Fullwood home in Mt. Pleasant.
Atwood said her daughter had a "rough start" during her teenage years.
"She overcame a heroin addiction and she has been clean off heroin for a year and a half," Atwood said. "And she met a wonderful man that entered her life."
Hill got engaged in November to the man, a Marine who had recently returned from a tour in Afghanistan.
"She just got engaged and was so happy. She's been with the same man that we consider family for a year and a half," Hill's mother said.
Hill even spent time with her fiancé and his family in Moroni over the Christmas holiday. "Then what happened after that, none of us really understand or know," Atwood said.
Hill called her father on Dec. 29 and said "very strangely" that she "wasn't going to be with" her fiance any more and then hung up.
"Then my husband continued to keep calling and a man got on the phone, which we found out was Logan McFarland, and he told my husband, 'If you come looking for your daughter, you'll be looking down a barrel of a shotgun,'" Atwood said, adding that she and her husband do not know McFarland.
Neither inmate wore handcuffs Wednesday as they sat in a back room of the Elko County Jail during the video proceedings. Hill wore a blue jumpsuit and sat with her arms and legs folded as she waited for the judge to begin. She seemed genuinely surprised when Nethery informed her she was being held for investigation of attempted murder. She bent her chest into her knees while sitting, and cried.
McFarland, wearing an orange jumpsuit and sitting with his arms folded, seemed equally surprised by his booking charges, asking the judge at one point, "How am I being charged with kidnapping?"
Both later returned to the jail Wednesday afternoon after the formal charges were filed. They were ordered to return for a status hearing Friday at 4 p.m.
According to the booking statement from the jail, Hill and McFarland carjacked a woman in the parking lot of the Red Garter Casino. Hill allegedly pushed the victim into the passenger seat at gunpoint and drove her vehicle while McFarland followed in a second car.
At one point, police say the woman fought back, biting Hill. Both women ended up outside of the vehicle during a struggle for Hill's gun. After the victim regained control of her vehicle and drove off, she felt McFarland's vehicle strike her from behind, jail documents state. She then "heard a gunshot and felt an object strike her in the head."
The woman remained conscious and was able to drive herself to the police station and most recently was in stable condition at a Salt Lake hospital. A bullet fragment was recovered from the left side of the woman's head, the charges state.
Jim Phelps, supervisory agent for the U.S. Marshals Service, said Wednesday that had the victim not escaped from the carjacking, he is "confident" she would have become a third homicide victim.
No charges have yet been filed in connection with the deaths of Woody and Ann Fullwood, but several court documents filed in both Utah and Nevada strongly suggest McFarland and Hill are suspects in the double killing.
Police said individuals had come forward "and had provided information that they suspected the two individuals were involved in the deaths of the Fullwoods in Mount Pleasant," according to an Elko County Jail statement.
A vehicle stolen out of Santaquin was later found in Wells, Nev., where a Volkswagen Jetta left warming up in front of a Super 8 Motel was stolen. During a high-speed chase on I-80 with police, personal items belonging to the Wendover carjacking victim, including her purse, were thrown out of the Jetta by McFarland and Hill, police said.
The Jetta was recovered late Tuesday in a very remote, mountainous region in the area where McFarland and Hill were arrested.
Elko County Sheriff's Lt. Marvin Morton was one of the first deputies on the scene and arrested McFarland and Hill. When he received the call that the two were spotted, he said he was about 35 miles away. As he drove to the location, he admitted he was a bit nervous about what would transpire when he confronted the fugitives.
"As we drove out there, we realized what we were up against. We knew what they had done," he said Wednesday in Wells, Nev.
When Morton and his partner spotted the couple, they were in an open area with knee-high sage brush. From about 500 yards away, a deputy told the couple from their patrol vehicle's PA system to slowly walk toward them.
He said at first McFarland and Hill ignored their commands. But a few moments later, they started walking toward them. What Morton didn't find out until later was that the couple dropped two handguns in the dirt as they prepared to surrender.
"We had them come toward us with their arms up in the air, showing us their hands. And we had them take off some of their clothes to see their waistbands," Morton said.
At gunpoint, the couple was taken into custody.
"They were just thirsty. They had been out there awhile. I don't know what their situation was with food and water at that point," he said.
Morton described Hill as "very thirsty" and a "little weak." She was examined at a local hospital for dehydration before being transported to the Elko County Jail. She was also "kind of cut up a little bit" from the trees they had walked through.
"She just said she was very thirsty and tired," Morton said.
Neither person talked about the crimes they are accused of during the arrest. The couple were about three miles away from the Jetta they allegedly had stolen. Morton wasn't sure where they were intending to go.
He described the vehicle as "very inoperable," noting that it had run over several small pine trees.
"It was very beat up," he said.
Morton described the arrests as "bittersweet," knowing what the couple is accused of doing. But he was very grateful that law enforcers were able to resolve the situation without any shots being fired.
Atwood said she is confused about the accusations against her daughter, who she said had never before held a gun before in her life.
"She can't handle a gun," Hill's mother said. "She also has a love of animals. She's upset if an animal is hurt. She has that much compassion."13 comments on this story
But Atwood said she also has a lot of sympathy for the victims and their families.
"I'm numb. I'm scared. My heart every day goes out to the family of all the victims involved," she said. "What people don't seem to understand is we're having a loss right now, too."
Contributing: Lori Prichard