A Salt Lake woman reported missing late last week, who had received threats by her ex-boyfriend, was found dead Monday night in Branson, Mo.
The body of Deborah Jones, 50, was found in a plastic storage container in the back seat of her missing gray Volkswagen Passat outside a motel late Monday night, according to Branson police.
Inside the motel, police found Jones' former live-in boyfriend, Michael Jerome Doyel, 47, and a second woman, Patricia Murray, 59, of West Valley City, who also had been missing for a couple of days.
As of Tuesday morning, Salt Lake Police Chief Chris Burbank said there were numerous unanswered questions about the case. He released limited information about the investigation, saying he wanted to wait until detectives had the chance to interview the parties involved before more about the case was revealed.
Burbank wasn't prepared to classify Jones' death as a homicide Tuesday morning, but said it was definitely suspicious.
Branson Police Chief Carrol McCullough said Jones' body was taken to Springfield. An autopsy was planned for Tuesday.
McCullough said preliminary autopsy results may be available later Tuesday or on Wednesday. Based on a preliminary investigation, McCullough said, Jones may have
been dead before the Volkswagen ever arrived in Missouri.
Doyel and Murray were being questioned by officers Tuesday, but as of 11 a.m. no arrests had been made. Burbank said a Salt Lake detective was sent to Missouri to interview the two.
The Salt Lake Police Department was working closely with police in Branson, the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office and the Utah Attorney General's Office, he said.
Burbank did not release or have information Tuesday about how Jones died, or how either Doyel or Murray might be involved.
Murray, who has diminished mental capacity, disappeared about the same time as Doyel and Jones. Neighbors of the West Valley woman told police they saw her leave with Doyel in a vehicle sometime between April 17 and 19. Police declined Tuesday to say in what vehicle they were seen leaving.
Murray lives in an apartment complex near 3100 South and 3500 West that is designed for retired people and people who have special needs.
The discovery of Jones' body marked the end of a two-day police search and brought the worst fears of Jones' family to reality.
Jones and Doyel lived together for six months until she broke up with him and told him to move out of her Highland Park home east of Sugar House about two weeks ago.
Bryan Jones, one of Jones' two sons, made a statement in front of her house Tuesday.
"We're deeply saddened by the recent developments. Deborah had nothing but love and compassion for others. As a nurse she took care of patients and really cared about her job. Although we're not sure it's a homicide, we're pretty sure what happened," he said.
Bryan Jones added, "The person responsible is a despicable piece of human flesh. He's a monster, and we all hope he is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. ... He took something precious from us someone who can never be replaced."
On April 16, Deborah Jones went to Salt Lake police to report a possible fraud involving Doyel, Burbank said. She believed Doyel was using some of her credit cards. At that time, she mentioned he had been making harassing phone calls but was not worried that her life was in danger, he said.
Jeff Jones, Deborah's son, said that after his mother and Doyel broke up, Doyel made several threatening phone calls. Some of the threats were violent in nature.
Police arranged for her to come back the next day to talk to them and to go to court to get a civil stalking injunction against Doyel, Burbank said. That was the last time, however, that police saw her.
On Friday, a friend received a call from Jones, Burbank said. He did not know from where she was calling, but it was the last time anyone heard from her.
After her family reported Jones missing Saturday night, police searched the immediate area and then put a description of her and her vehicle on NCIC, a national information database for police, so officers in any state could look for her.
An endangered person advisory was issued Sunday for Jones.
Branson police received a call from Salt Lake investigators Monday night telling them they had developed information that Doyel might be headed to that area. Burbank declined Tuesday to say how that information was developed.
By 9 p.m. CST, Jones' car was found at a motel on West Highway 76, according to Branson police.
Burbank said he did not know what happened in Salt Lake City that brought Doyel and Jones together.
Prior to the announcement of the discovery of Jones' body, the Deseret News spoke with Doyel's 75-year-old mother in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She expressed grave concern for Jones due to her son's behavior in the past.
"My last words to him were, 'Go away. Leave her alone and be good. Be good,"' Pauline Doyel said. "Leave people alone."
Doyel said her son is a "habitual liar" and suffers from what she called paranoid schizophrenia.
"We had him institutionalized. He's been in jail, he's been in prison. We've done everything in our power to get help for him," she said.
Doyel said her son was on medication for a while and then stopped taking it, believing he no longer needed it. She said Jones had tried to get him to start taking it again.
Although she never met Jones in person, Pauline Doyel said she had talked to her on the phone. She wasn't completely sure how she and Michael met, but believed they had met in South Carolina. He then followed her back to Utah, Doyel said.
Her son had been in trouble with the law in Iowa for myriad crimes, including shoplifting, theft and forgery, she said. Court records in Utah show Michael Doyel had run-ins with the law here for assault on a police officer and was arrested for being a fugitive from justice from Iowa.
Michael Doyel called his mother every week, until recently, she said. He admitted to her that he and Jones were having problems and there had been some "pushing and shoving and slapping," Pauline Doyel said.
Doyel had been married and divorced twice before, his mother said. Both were "terrible relationships," Pauline Doyel said. She spoke to his first wife Monday night, and she talked about physical violence during their marriage.
Michael Doyel also has a sister, but Pauline said she has no ties with him.
"She wants no part of him for what he put his father and me through," she said.Even before Jones' body was discovered, Pauline Doyel said she was "deeply sorry" for the actions of her son, whom she believed was responsible for Jones' disappearance. "I hope he's caught."
Contributing: Arthur Raymond, Deseret News; Dave Abner, Branson Daily News E-mail: [email protected]
E-mail: [email protected]