CEDAR CITY Investigators say that as Derek Davis and Chad Grijalva walked up to the door of Marty Nelson's run-down trailer, they may have exchanged words with the man over a debt of several hundred dollars and died right there.
"They came onto this guy's property to settle a debt and he gunned 'em down," Iron County Sheriff's Sgt. Jody Edwards told the Deseret Morning News today.
Reconstructing the crime scene, detectives said the men may have been about 20 yards from Nelson's door when he raised a .22-caliber rifle and opened fire hitting them numerous times in the chest and head. On Saturday, cadaver dogs found the bodies of Davis and Grijalva, both 34, buried underneath the floorboards of a tack shed on the property.
Now, 43-year-old Martin Chris Nelson is in jail and police and prosecutors are building a double-murder case against the convicted sex offender.
"There's a lot that still needs to be done," Iron County Attorney Scott Garrett said today. "Some of the evidence is still being sent to the crime lab to be tested. We're waiting for all of that to be wrapped up."
Garrett said it's possible that murder charges could be filed next week. He said the level of the charges depends on the evidence.
So far, Nelson has only been charged with failure to register as a sex offender and possession of a controlled substance, both third-degree felonies. A preliminary hearing on those charges has been scheduled for Nov. 28 in Cedar City's 5th District Court. A judge set bail at $20,000.
"If he is in a position where he can make bail, we'll do something at that point," Garrett said.
Nelson has a criminal record of drug offenses. The Utah Sex Offender Registry also lists a 1992 child molestation conviction and said his primary targets are female children. No address was listed for Nelson, who also went by the name "Victor Summers."
Iron County sheriff's deputies today began poring over hundreds of pieces of evidence collected from the ramshackle property where Nelson lived.
"We believe we have recovered the (murder) weapon," Edwards said, adding that it was a .22-caliber rifle.
Police said Nelson has refused to provide details about the slayings.
"He did give us an initial interview where toward the end ... he did request an attorney," Edwards said.
Davis and Grijalva told family members on Oct. 24 they were going from Toquerville to the Cedar City area to run some errands.
They never returned home.
Anxious family members searched for the men. Grijalva's father hired an airplane to search the southern Utah area from the sky for any sign of the pickup truck. His mother stayed up late at night calling his cell phone, hoping for an answer. A call registered on a cell phone tower in Delta. Now, authorities do not believe a phone call was ever made in Salt Lake City, as they first believed.
"As we were able to conduct more interviews, this name 'Marty' came up," said Washington County Sheriff's Lt. Jake Adams. "We didn't know who 'Marty' was."
Ultimately, Iron County sheriff's deputies learned that "Marty" was Martin Chris Nelson and when they went to investigate last week, they found the white, 1990 Ford Ranger pickup that Davis and Grijalva were last seen driving.Funeral services for the two men are pending.