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Murray police locate, clear panhandler in homicide case

Published: Friday, Jan. 31 2014 10:41 a.m. MST

MURRAY — Murray homicide investigators have located a panhandler whom they wanted to question in connection with the killing of an 85-year-old woman.

But detective Kenny Bass said after questioning the man, they no longer believe he was the same man driving Shirley Sharp's car Saturday morning who was stopped by Utah Transit Authority officers.

Police released a photograph of the man Thursday. The bearded man was frequently seen panhandling on State Street near 6500 South at the top of the off-ramp from I-215. He caught the attention of motorists with his handwritten signs, such as "Too stoopid to steal."

Bass said detectives got some valuable information from the man, which he declined to disclose Friday.

"He was cooperative and provided useful information," he said.

He noted that investigators believed their person of interest looks very similar to the panhandler but is a little bit older.

Sharp was found dead in her house, 20 E. Winchester St. (6400 South), Saturday. An autopsy determined she died from blunt force trauma to her head. Someone also intentionally set a small fire in the bedroom where she was found.

What led investigators to her house in the first place was a traffic stop about 30 minutes earlier. UTA police stopped a man in a car near 75 W. 5300 South. But while they were questioning him, he took off. The car was registered to Sharp, so police went to her house, where they found smoke coming from it when they arrived.

Sharp's car was later found abandoned.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call police at 801-840-4000 or 801-264-2673.

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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