The Millard County attorney has filed homicide charges against a Utah man for the bludgeoning death of a theater arts major whose partially clothed body was found in a desolate desert area beside I-15 near Kanosh.
Millard County Sheriff Ed Phillips said Friday that two men are in custody, but their names are being withheld pending further investigation. Charges against one of the unidentified individuals were filed and the probable cause statement, explaining the justification for the charges, was sealed.Evidence at the scene and information from a undisclosed source indicate the killing was at least partly sex-related, said Phillips. Robbery is also being looked into as a possible motive.
The body of Gordon Ray Church, 28, Cedar City was found Wednesday following a tip. Officers said he apparently had been beaten with a tire iron and part of a car jack.
Deputies, acting on the anonymous tip, found Church's body just before daybreak Wednesday in an area called Dog Valley, about a half-mile from I-15's Exit 138.
"He was dead when they took him to the burial site," and Church's body was covered with a small pile of dirt, said Millard County Capt. Robert Dekker. A blunt instrument was found at the scene along with other evidence the captain refused to name.
West Valley police, using information received in the early morning tip, located a car near 38th South and 20th West that was registered to the parents of the victim, who was a theater arts major at Southern Utah State College, Dekker said.
In addition to the blood-spattered vehicle, a pair of blood-stained pants was found in a nearby location by investigators acting on a tip.
"We're still processing that" vehicle, Dekker said. "That's part of the problem - the people who would normally be doing that were home for Thanksgiving dinner" and could not be reached.
Phillips said the victim apparently met "his assailants in the Cedar City area and was en route to the Salt Lake area," when the killing occurred.
"Why it happened, what provoked it en route, we don't have any idea right now," Phillips said.
An autopsy in Salt Lake City determined that Church died from massive head injuries, officials said.