Kelly Schaelling went walking through his West Salt Lake neighborhood almost every night.

A self-appointed watchdog for the neighborhood, he would write down license plate numbers of cars that came and went from an apartment complex neighbors claim has a steady stream of drug traffic.When he wasn't walking, the 34-year-old was sitting on the front porch, watching.

On Friday, he headed out the door about 1:30 a.m.

"I said, `Be careful, it's dangerous out there,' " his mother, Mary Schaelling, said. "Then I sat down in that chair right there and dozed."

About 4 a.m., Mary Schaelling awoke to the sound of gunfire. She quickly called police.

"I heard one shot, and then I heard a girl say, `Oh my God, you shot him, you shot him,' " Schaelling said. "I didn't think anything of it, I was just wondering why (Kelly) wasn't home yet."

As police arrived, Schaelling walked across the street and saw a body lying on the lawn in front of the apartments, 872 W. 500 South.

"I looked down and said, `That's my son,' " she said quietly.

It was the third suspicious death in less than 24 hours Salt Lake police detectives were called out on, including the Thursday midday discovery of a missing Layton man who had been employed by the Salt Lake Organizing Committee and the death of a woman in Central City.

"I don't know if they'll all be homicides, but we have to treat them like that," Salt Lake Police Lt. Jim Jensen said Friday.

- Police are looking for three suspects - two men and one woman - for questioning in Kelly Schaelling's death. The three were last seen driving away from the area in a small tan or light brown car, Jensen said.

Little is known about what went on between Schaelling and the three suspects, he added. But several neighbors who called 911 reported hearing a heated verbal exchange prior to the gunfire, Jensen said.

Police are also looking for a missing .357 caliber pistol that they say Kelly Schaelling owned. Officers did recover a rifle a few blocks from the shooting but don't know if it was used to kill him.

Schaelling began his neighborhood vigil about a year ago after blood pressure problems and a persistent skin irritation forced him to quit his job, his mother said. A lifetime resident of 500 South, Kelly was concerned about the rise in crime there and continued to keep a watchful eye on things, even when his life was threatened.

"He always wanted to be a policeman," Mary Schaelling said of her eldest son. "But with his health, he couldn't. I used to yell at him about it - about going out there at night. But that's Kelly, always wanting to help somebody."

Even in his work life, Kelly was a helper. His last job was at a Salt Lake shelter, working with the homeless, she said.

Kelly, his aunt Linda Quinn said, was kind-hearted, loving and affectionate.

"He'd give you the shirt off his back or the last money in his pocket if he thought you really needed it," she said. "He had a heart of gold."

- James Christiansen, 39, was last seen Sept. 13, packing up a SLOC exhibit trailer at the Utah State Fair. Christiansen had worked for SLOC for two months as the retail manager of the stores selling Olympic pins and other promotional merchandise.

The body was found about 12:30 p.m. after a chance observation by the program manager of the drug rehabilitation center, the Odyssey House.

Mark Odom said he was on the porch of the center at 68 S. 600 East reading a newspaper account of Christiansen's disappearance.

He looked up from the paper after noting a description of Christiansen's missing 1998 Suburban and saw what looked like the same vehicle parked across the street on the east side facing north. After verifying the license plate was the same, he called police.

"It was . . . ironic," Odom said.

He said he didn't look in the vehicle, and it was police officers who found Christiansen's body in the back seat.

The news stunned SLOC employees.

"We are shocked and saddened to learn of the death of Jim Christiansen. In the short time he was employed at SLOC, he became part of our Olympic family and was an excellent employee. The entire staff sends its deepest condolences to his family and friends," Frank Joklik, chief executive officer of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, said in a prepared statement released Thursday.

Salt Lake Police Lt. Phil Kirk said there were no obvious signs of the cause of death. The body was taken to the medical examiner's office for an autopsy.

Kirk said it was apparent the body and vehicle had been parked in the Central City neighborhood for some time and that Chris-tian-sen had been dead for several days.

- Police also remain unsure of what caused the death of woman in her late teens or early 20s.

Her body was found Thursday afternoon after a chance glance down the rear stairway of a local business revealed a gruesome sight for a group of teenagers.

About 2:20 p.m. Thursday, the teens flagged down a passing Salt Lake police patrol car to say they'd seen a woman dead and partially disrobed in the basement service stairwell of Electrolux Vacuum Cleaner Sales and Service, 165 E. 900 South.

The woman has been tentatively identified, but police are not releasing her name until relatives have been notified. There were no obvious signs of trauma, Salt Lake Police Sgt. Kyle Jones said. But the victim's clothes were "in a state of disarray," he said.

Witnesses said they saw the woman lying face down at the bottom of the stairwell, with her blue jeans pulled down around her ankles and her shirt partially pulled up.

"The kids came in and told me to call 911, that they thought (the victim) had been raped and that she was dead," said Electrolux employee Tamara Green. "I thought she'd be in the parking lot, so I went high-tailing back there. When I opened the door, boom, there she was. I just screamed and shut the door. I was hysterical."

Green was on the phone with police dispatchers when the teens spotted and flagged down the patrol car.

Police declined to say whether the victim was sexually assaulted, opting to defer to the medical examiner's report. The stairwell is also a site where transients have been known to eat, sleep and defecate, Jones said.

"All I can say is that her clothes were in disarray. But it could be that she was using it (the stairwell) as a bathroom."

Preliminary indications are that the woman died sometime between 5:20 p.m. Wednesday, the last time an Electrolux employee checked the back entrance, and 2:20 p.m. Thursday when the body was found, Jones said.

"What gets me is that she was here all day, and we didn't know it," said Green. "I've never, ever seen anything like that in my life. I don't want to, ever again."

Police are ruling the incident a "suspicious death," but are still looking for clues to explain it.