Texas and Utah law officers have just concluded a secret powwow to coordinate separate investigations into murders of five former followers of violent polygamist Ervil LeBaron - 11 months after polygamist Dan Jordan was gunned down near Manti.
Utah law enforcement officers wouldn't say much about what was discussed at the meeting in Salt Lake City, whether new evidence has been found or whether they expect to break the case soon.John T. Nielsen, commissioner of the Utah Department of Public Safety, called the meeting routine, a meeting to share information on investigations. "By sharing notes on the case, maybe someone somewhere has a piece of information that will help someone else's case," Nielsen said.
Nielsen said nothing new has been developed on the homicide cases, but law officers continue to pursue leads. Nielsen and others refused to say when, or if, charges would be filed.
"If we file charges 10 months from now, I guess we would be one day closer today to filing charges," said Richard Forbes, Salt Lake County attorney's investigator. "We just can't say when charges may be filed."
Forbes also described the meeting as routine, calling it "just a chance for us to get our heads together."
Among the murders being investigated are: Jordan, a former right-hand man of LeBaron, who was shot 19 times near Manti on Oct. 19; Eddie Marston, a son-in-law of LeBaron, who was killed in Irving, Texas, on June 27; and LeBaron followers Mark and Duane Chynoweth and Duane's 9-year-old daughter, Jennifer, who were killed in Houston, Texas, also on June 27.
Another possibly related case is the disappearance of Leo P. Evoniuk, another former right-hand man of LeBaron. He disappeared on May 27, 1987, near Santa Cruz, Calif., at a site stained with blood and littered with bullet casings. His truck also disappeared. But a truck closely matching its description was used by the murderer of Duane and Jennifer Cynoweth in Houston.
Some suspects in the cases - five children of LeBaron - are in jail in Phoenix on unrelated auto-theft charges. No murder charges have yet been filed against them.
Sanpete County Sheriff Chuck Ramsey said police used the meeting to compare notes and better coordinate investigations.
He said he could only comment on the Jordan case.
"We still believe Aaron, Natasha and possibly Cynthia (LeBaron) are the most likely suspects," he said.
Cynthia LeBaron is among those charged in Phoenix for
uto theft. Aaron and Natasha LeBaron are still at large. Aaron LeBaron was questioned by Sanpete deputy sheriffs shortly after Jordan's murder, but was released. He was later arrested in Colorado for "menacing" Jordan's family after his funeral, but charges were later dropped.
"We still don't expect to file charges anytime soon," Ramsey said.
Aaron LeBaron along with his brothers Andrew LeBaron (who is also still at large) and Heber LeBaron (who is charged in Phoenix) are also suspected of the murders in Texas.
Irving Texas Police Lt. K.L. Rowe said his agency sent one man to the meeting in Salt Lake City and said lawmen from Utah and the FBI were there. He said little new has developed in the Marston case, however.
Lawmen suspect that some of Ervil LeBaron's children are seeking revenge against people who once followed their father but broke away from his leadership.
Ervil LeBaron died in the Utah State Prison in 1981 while serving a life sentence for ordering the 1977 murder of rival polygamist Rulon Allred in Murray.
At least 18 one-time followers of Ervil LeBaron have been killed or have mysteriously disappeared in the past 20 years. Ervil LeBaron's followers have also been blamed for the murder of five additional outsiders, including three self-proclaimed prophets who were rivals of Ervil LeBaron.