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Man found dead in canal was suspected in 1994 murder case

Published: Monday, Sept. 17 2012 1:20 p.m. MDT

WEST VALLEY CITY — As West Valley police wait for autopsy results on the body of a man found in a canal last week, Salt Lake police will likely also be keeping an eye on the case.

On Friday, the body of Richard Anthony Byrd, 43, was pulled from a canal near 5800 South and 4100 West. Investigators estimated Byrd had been dead less than 24 hours when he was found. A cause of death had not been determined as of Monday.

Byrd was a person of interest in a cold case murder investigation being conducted by Salt Lake police.

In 2009, Salt Lake police served two search warrants on Byrd and another man, seeking DNA samples from each. Their investigation was in connection to the killing of Cornelia Salt, 22, of Phoenix, who was shot multiple times in the head. Her body was found in a rental car near 970 W. 900 South on Nov. 12, 1994.

Byrd was Salt's former boyfriend. According to court documents, a confidential informant told police that Byrd was upset with her for leaving him to marry another man, "so he shot her three times in the head. (The confidential informant) knew details of the crime scene that were not public."

Byrd spent most of the last 20 years in and out of prison and jail. In 2010, he was sentenced to six months in jail for felony theft, and he also had two alcohol-related misdemeanor convictions in June and July of this year. Before that, he pleaded guilty to attempted theft of a vehicle in 1990, robbery in 1992, and attempted assault by a prisoner in March 2000, according to Utah court records.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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