Officer who killed family had dark side, struggled since childhood
Editor's note: The following account describes disturbing descriptions in the shooting deaths of a Spanish Fork family killed in January.
SPANISH FORK — At work, Joshua Boren was a well-respected law enforcement officer, often referred to as a big "teddy bear."
But in the months since he shot and killed his wife, two children, mother-in-law and himself in January, investigators have unraveled a disturbing dark side and behavior that he apparently had been battling since childhood.
"Josh was a very troubled individual that felt like he was about to lose his wife and children," the Spanish Fork Police Department wrote in its report into the tragic deaths.
On Monday, the department completed its seven-month investigation into the Lindon police officer accused in the January killing spree. The Deseret News received a copy of the 145-page report through a Government Records Access and Management Act request, and it provides insight into what motivated the man to kill his family and take his own life.
The bodies of Kelly Boren, 32; Joshua “Jaden” Boren, 7; Haley Boren, 5; Marie King, 55; and Joshua Boren, 34, were found inside their Spanish Fork house on Jan. 16. Police believe Joshua Boren, who had previously worked for the Utah County Sheriff's Office, shot and killed his family in the upstairs area of their house before turning the gun on himself.
Alarming new details were revealed in the report that allege abuse by Joshua Boren against his wife, lingering anger against his mother, and drug, sex and pornography addictions that contributed to a troubled life and the collapse of his marriage.
The report confirms that Joshua Boren used his police-issued handgun to shoot and kill his wife, two children, and mother-in-law in January. Joshua Boren then placed the bodies of his wife and children on his bed, lying side-by-side, lay down next to them and took his own life. The body of Marie King was found in another room.
A troubled life
The report states that Joshua Boren was sexually abused as a child and had a drug addiction. It also describes an addiction to pornography that lasted into adulthood and says he had a deep hatred for his biological mother.
Several friends of both Joshua and Kelly Boren, including the officer's therapist whom he had been seeing since the fall of 2013 to try to deal with his failing marriage, reported to investigators that Joshua Boren had drugged his wife with Ambien, causing her to pass out, and raped her while videotaping the event. He did this four or five times over the past two years, several people told police.
Spanish Fork police said Monday no videotapes were ever found in connection with the investigation. Detectives investigating the murders reviewed some of Boren's own writings after his death describing personal encounters.
"He had been abused physically, sexually and emotionally as a child, and was still upset with his mother for not protecting him from the abuse. Josh had writings that indicated he struggled with inappropriate sexual activity as a minor and into his adulthood. They also indicate Josh has a history of drug abuse. The writings seem to corroborate the allegation that he had drugged and raped Kelly," the report states.
The night before the murders, Kelly and Joshua Boren got into a heated argument through text messages. Both of them seemed to agree at that point that their eight-year marriage was finally over.
"You (expletive) drugged and raped me," Kelly Boren texted, followed by four more texts with only the word "raped," according to the report.
"I hate my life because (of) you," she texted. "You killed a part of me."
"I don't want to live in fear and hate and anger," she wrote in another text.
The next morning — the day of the murders — the texting argument continued. Kelly Boren was upset that Joshua Boren allegedly called her a bad mother, the report states. She responded by threatening to take the children.
"Don't involve the kids, they are innocent," Joshua Boren texted back.
Day of the shootings
By the end of the conversation, the two seemed to have smoothed things out, and Joshua Boren agreed to pick up the children later and drop them off at her house.
About 45 minutes before Boren was about to end his shift for the police department, he Googled the terms "America's most brutal serial killers" and "narcissism," the report states.
Just before 6 p.m. on Jan. 16, Joshua Boren sent his last text message. It was to his mother, and it read: "I hope you are having a good day. Have a long and healthy life."
Several people, including Boren's sister, told investigators that he had a "deep hatred" of his mother. After Boren's father committed suicide when he was 5, his mother started using drugs and seeing several men, the report states. One of those men allegedly sexually abused Boren. But he felt his mother never properly addressed the issue, his sister told police.
As her brother struggled with being abused, the sister said he got involved with drugs during his teenage years and became addicted to sex and pornography, the report states. His family claimed he had been clean of drugs since 2000.
Later, after he was married, Boren called his sister "and told (her) that he had drugged Kelly and raped her while videotaping it," the report states.
The latest incident was in late 2013, according to the allegations.
Several people interviewed by Spanish Fork police also mentioned Boren's temper. His sister said he "usually kept things bottled in but when he snapped, he really lost control" while another mentioned, "When Josh snaps, he is uncontrollable," the report states.
Boren's struggles with being abused as a child made him increasingly unstable in the months leading up to the four murders. In December at a family gathering, there was a confrontation between Boren and his mother, according to the report.
"Josh's eyes just looked evil," the mother said of her son that day.
During the ensuing rage, witnesses told police that he exclaimed, "I'm just like you, Mom, I sweep everything under the rug."
Boren's therapist said when the man was seeing her for sex addiction and marital problems, he spent a significant amount of time trying to get over his hatred of his mother.
The therapist called Boren a "3-year-old boy stuck in a big man's body."
His wife told the therapist, according to the report, that she didn't want to report the drugging and rape allegations to police because she didn't want to ruin her estranged husband's law enforcement career.
However, detectives noted in the conclusion of their report: "Word was starting to get out about Josh drugging and raping Kelly, and he may have felt like he was about to be reported, which would have resulted in loss of his job and incarceration."
As part of his therapy, Boren was told to write things in a journal. Police found several of Boren's notebooks after the killings. In one of them, dated in December of 2013, Boren seems to list his secrets:
"I have a sex addiction," "I fantasize regularly about people I see," "I've always hated sex offenders and their behaviors," and "I fantasize about drugging and having sex with Kelly and other women regularly," he wrote.
Boren and his wife were body builders and frequently worked out at the gym. Kelly Boren's friends said she was involved with another man at the gym at the time of the killings. The man she was having an affair with told police that the two exchanged more than 13,000 text messages in the days leading up to the murders.
Several have questioned whether "roid rage" may have been a factor in Joshua Boren's actions. But the investigation appears to dispel that notion of steroid use at the time.
"Toxicology tests reveal the absence of any drugs or alcohol in the bodies of the victims or Joshua Boren. Investigators received information from interviews that there were marital issues in the past, none of which had been reported to authorities," according to a statement from the police department.
Investigators also noted in the report that "vials of prescription testosterone" were found under the dresser in Boren's house.
History known to department
Neither Lindon Police Chief Cody Cullimore nor Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Spencer Cannon said Monday that they had read the final report, though both said they were aware of some of the allegations being raised.
Potential new officers are given mental health screenings at each department before they are hired and background checks are also conducted. But both said after an officer is hired, there are no regular checkups. Officers have counselors made available to them after traumatic incidents, such as officer-involved shootings, but there are no regular mental health screenings.
As for the hiring of officers, Cannon said just because someone may have committed criminal acts in the past doesn't necessarily mean they won't be hired as a deputy. He said all of that is handled on a case-by-case basis.
Boren disclosed to the department that his juvenile years were filled with drug use, the report states.
"Josh has had a very heavy drug use in the past and has admitted to using acid, cocaine, cross tops, marijuana, meth and mushrooms," according to information Spanish Fork police received during their investigation.
Boren also disclosed he had hired a prostitute at 18 at a Nevada brothel.
The report states that a fellow officer whom Boren had been confiding in encouraged him to get screened for possible mental illness.
"Josh told him there was someone else that lived inside of him," the report states.
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline, 1-800-273-8255, operates 24 hours a day. The Utah Domestic Violence LINKLine is 1-800-897-LINK (5465).
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