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Police arrest 4 in connection with death of Sandy man

Shocked family trying to understand 'senseless' death

Published: Friday, Aug. 24 2012 4:49 p.m. MDT

HOLLADAY — Police have arrested four people in connection with the death of a Sandy man whose body was found Thursday in a church parking lot.

Michael Robert Workman, 25, was found dead about 7:30 a.m. Thursday on a grass strip on the side of an LDS meetinghouse at 4930 S. Westmoor Road (1730 East) by a neighbor. Workman "had multiple puncture wounds on his body," Unified Police Lt. Justin Hoyal said.

Police announced Friday that they had arrested three men, Talon Levi Hamann, 18, Ryan Curtz, 18, and Austin Scott Taylor, 20, for investigation of murder. Shalynn Danielle Caro, 18, was arrested for investigation of obstruction of justice.

"It appears that Hamann, Taylor, and Curtz did not know Workman, but believed Workman got into an argument with one of their friends," Hoyal said. "Based on their belief of the argument, they went after Workman. They located Workman at the church and an altercation took place. During the altercation, Workman was killed."

Hoyal said a witness came forward and identified those believed to be responsible for his death.

Through interviews and witness statements, detectives determined that Hamann stabbed Workman during the fight and Taylor and Curtz hit the man while he was being stabbed by Hamann, Hoyal said. Caro is accused of driving the three suspects to the scene, witnessing the killing and driving them from the scene.

She was interviewed by police, but allegedly gave police some false information.

Workman's sister, Caren Workman Toomer, said her brother had spoken with their father Wednesday and told him that he planned to spend time with friends after playing Frisbee golf. Workman's vehicle was found parked in front of a house just west of the church property.

Hoyal said the house is where one of Workman's friends lives. He said the suspects managed to track Workman down at the church, where the altercation took place.

Workman's family said they were "in shock" when they learned their brother had been killed. An Eagle Scout, he was the youngest child and only boy in his family. His four older sisters spoke about him Friday.

"He was a pure person and really didn't deserve any of this," Jen Workman said. "I've never heard him talk negatively about anybody. I don't know anybody that doesn't like him and I don't know anybody that he doesn't like. He just gets along with everybody.

"It was a complete shock that anybody would have anything against him."

Jen Workman, who was the closest to Michael in age, said her family is still trying to understand what happened to their baby brother.

"We haven't really figured anything out," she said. "He was such a good person, there was no reason. ... It was completely senseless."

Sister Tina Hale said her brother was the sort of person who loved, and was loved by all those he came into contact with. His already-close family has united in the wake of his death.

"What we're trying to do right now, because we don't have all the details and it's a little difficult to speculate ... I think that, emotionally, it's been easier for us to bond together as a family and to remember how grateful and how blessed we are to have him, period," Hale said.

The time has consisted of "a lot of crying, a lot of hugging" and plenty of storytelling. They want to celebrate his life, Hale said, and not focus on the way that he died. They are also grateful for the police and their efforts to make arrests so quickly.

"We really appreciate all their hard work," Toomer said. "I can't imagine it dragging out even another day and not knowing."

All four suspects have minor criminal histories, mostly made up misdemeanor charges filed in various justice courts that are still pending.

Hamman's history was limited to misdemeanor traffic offenses such as failure to remain at the scene of an accident and driving on a suspended or revoked license, alcohol-related, both class B misdemeanors, according to court records.

Taylor has had charges filed against him four times since 2010, three of them this year. He was placed on 18 months probation on July 26, after pleading guilty to possession of a controlled substance and use or possession of drug paraphernalia, class B misdemeanors.

His neighbor, Curtis Briggs, said Taylor lives with his grandfather and has "had a few problems in the past." He said there have been parties at the house that caused some noise problems, but conceded that he doesn't know Taylor well. 

"I'm pretty stunned that he's been arrested for murder," Briggs said. "The grandfather is a great guy. He's always concerned about his own son and his grandsons and he's provided for them well and has worked hard his whole life. It's just kind of hard to see that Austin has made the decision he's chosen."

Workman's family has an account set up at Mountain American Credit Union under the Michael Robert Workman estate.

Contributing: Shara Park, Nkoyo Iyamba

E-mail: emorgan@desnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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