BOUNTIFUL — A man and a woman have been charged with breaking into a house, holding a Bountiful man hostage for about 12 hours and robbing him.
Police knew almost immediately whom to look for based on blatant pieces of evidence left behind by the suspects — including pictures on Facebook, documents directly naming at least one suspect, and a suspect's signature on a stolen check. The couple also called each other by their real names during the alleged kidnapping, police said.
Jordan Marie Thornberg, 18, and Garrett Todd Sweat, 19, were each charged in 2nd District Court with aggravated robbery and aggravated kidnapping, first-degree felonies; as well as theft and unlawful acquisition of a credit card, third-degree felonies.
About 8 p.m. on Jan. 7, Sweat made his way inside a home in Bountiful by mentioning a mutual acquaintance to the homeowner, according to charging documents. He had apparently been to the man's home before with a friend. Police said Sweat then let Thornberg in the house without the homeowner's knowledge.
When the victim discovered there was another person hiding inside his house, Thornberg and Sweat "choked the homeowner with a shoelace to the point of the homeowner losing consciousness," the charges state. The homeowner was then tied up with duct tape and held against his will at knife point for the rest of the night.
During the night, the two intruders forced the homeowner to write a check for $1,100 and also took the victim's phone, laptop, jewelry and multiple coats, according to the charges.
Bountiful police on Tuesday said they could not definitively say if robbery and kidnapping were the main motives and part of the original plan or if the situation "went downhill" after Thornberg was discovered.
At 8 a.m. the next morning, Thornberg and Sweat left the residence. The homeowner broke free of his bonds and called police. When officers arrived, there was still a shoelace tied around the man's neck along with "red marks and duct tape residue on his wrists and ankles," the charging documents state
The biggest clue for investigators, however, came from the suspects themselves. Police found evidence that a check had been written out to Thornberg as well as a hospital document with Sweat's name inside a jacket left at the scene. The woman also called her alleged accomplice "Garrett" throughout the night, the homeowner told police.
Furthermore, investigators found pictures of Sweat on the victim's computer that were also posted on Thornberg's Facebook page. Bountiful police said Tuesday the suspects were using the homeowner's computer but could not confirm whether they were using it directly to upload pictures to Facebook while holding the man hostage.
Thornberg's Facebook page has a self-portrait taken with a cellphone shooting into a mirror. The picture was posted on Jan. 7, the same night the alleged kidnapping began.
Both Sweat and Thornberg call themselves Juggalos on their Facebook pages. Juggalos are followers of the group Insane Clown Posse and local law enforcement agencies have classified them as a gang. On Sweat's Facebook page, he said he is engaged to Thornberg.
Some friends of Thornberg and Sweat said the couple called them the morning of Jan. 8 and asked to be picked up near the victim's home, according to charging documents.
Police received information that the couple would be in the West Jordan area on Friday and were spotted and arrested at a fast food restaurant.
In 2011, Sweat was found guilty of unlawful acquisition of a credit card, a third-degree felony. As part of his plea deal, four other charges, including theft, were dismissed, according to court records. In that case, Sweat, then 17, stole a minivan in West Valley City and drove it to California and left it with a friend. He also stole the van owner's credit cards and passport. Sweat was convicted in the adult system. He had previously been confined to Youth Corrections for unknown convictions.14 comments on this story
He was ordered to serve up to five years at the Utah State Prison for a credit card incident and placed on 36 months' probation. In January 2012, Sweat was booked into jail for a probation violation. His probation was later reinstated, and Sweat was ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation, court records indicate.
Both Sweat and Thornberg were charged with misdemeanor theft of services in December. Sandy police say Thornberg's charges came from not paying for a cab ride.