Ogden was once dubbed the murder capital of Utah, but 1990 statistics should dispel that image - especially when compared with Salt Lake City's record number of homicides last year.
Salt Lake City police investigated 25 homicides during 1990. Ogden police reported only one. And only three occurred in all of Weber County last year.Behind Salt Lake City - way behind - is the unincorporated areas of Salt Lake County where the sheriff's office investigated five homicides. The rest of the police agencies along the Wasatch Front had less to worry about, at least as far as murders are concerned.
West Valley City, Utah's second largest city, had two homicides in 1990 as did Murray, Utah's 11th largest city, and South Salt Lake, the 29th largest. Of the remaining 10 most populated cities in the state, Provo, Ogden and West Jordan each investigated only one.
And whether the death in West Jordan is an actual homicide has not been proved. A 3rd Circuit judge ruled that the death of Mary Barndt, 19, was a suicide and dismissed the second-degree murder charge against Donald Jaeger, 31. Prosecutors still believe Jaeger is linked to the shooting, however, and are consulting with the attorney general's office about a possible appeal.
But many people may most be surprised by Ogden's low number in the homicide column. Ogden received the label of the murder capital of the state after statistics revealed that more people per population were being killed there.
Ogden Police Capt. Marlin Balls attributes the low murder rate in 1990 to better trained officers and the excellent work of paramedics.
"Homicides are usually a spur of the moment thing," said Balls.
Seven-month-old Adam Quade Anderson died Nov. 25 from being aggressively shaken. The mother's live-in boyfriend, Mel P. Gallegos, is scheduled to stand trial on a manslaughter charge on March 19.
Two other homicides were reported last year in Weber County. One was Nicolas McGuire, whose body was found buried in a Roy back yard Dec. 17. The 5-year-old's stepfather, James Thomas, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to five years to life in prison. Nicolas' mother, Debra Thomas, was given up to five years in prison for allowing her husband to physically abuse her five children.
The third slaying in Weber County in 1990 was the death of Ashlee B. Morgan. The 3-month-old died after she bled to death from a blow to the mid-section. Her father, Robert B. Morgan, 18, North Ogden, is expected to enter a not guilty plea in the case next week.
Balls said that several people were physically assaulted last year, and that their attackers have been charged with attempted murder or aggravated assault. Balls said most of the victims survived their attacks because of excellent work from paramedics by keeping violent crime victims alive.
He also said that good police work contributes to keeping violence down. He said better trained officers can diffuse neighborhood or domestic disputes in protecting the public from physical injuries.
According to records, there were six murders in Ogden in 1989, nine in 1988, five in 1987, three in 1986, eight in 1985 and seven in 1984.
Balls said he thought that about nine years ago, Ogden set a record when there were no homicides in 18 months.
He also pointed out that transient murders are down because the city has implemented a foot patrol program where officers have been successful in keeping the transient population moving.
All in all, Balls said that 1990 was a "relatively quiet" year.
Number of homicides reported during 1990 in Utah's largest cities:*
1. Salt Lake City 25**
2. West Valley City 2
3. Provo 1
4. Sandy 0
5. Orem 0
6. Ogden 1
7. West Jordan 1***
8. Layton 0
9. Bountiful 0
10. Logan 0
11. Murray 2
29. South Salt Lake 2
Salt Lake County 5
*Ranked according to 1990 census.
**Record number of homicides.
***Judge ruled death was a suicide, but prosecutors may appeal decision.
****Although not ranked by census bureau, unincorporated county population ranks second only to Salt Lake City.