BYU
Kay Sherman Mortensen

PAYSON — Investigators remained very tight-lipped Wednesday, two days after a retired BYU professor was killed inside his home.

A neighbor of Kay Sherman Mortensen, however, has shed some new light on what happened that night.

Kent Carroll, a longtime resident on South Canyon Road a couple of miles southeast of Payson, said Mortensen's family was planning to gather at the house Monday evening to play board games. That included Mortensen's son and the son's wife, who apparently were tied up by two men who invaded the house.

"I really think they're lucky to be alive," he said.

Mortensen's wife was returning from Salt Lake County, where she had gone to be with her daughter who was having a baby, Carroll said. However, she was delayed and was getting back later than expected.

Carroll himself was late getting home with his wife from a doctor's appointment in Pleasant Grove, or he believes he would have been at the scene during the home invasion. It was common for him to take care of the Mortensen property when they were out of town, as he thought they were Monday, or to drive over on his four-wheeler if he saw anything suspicious.

"It's probably a good thing I wasn't home," Carroll said. "Had we not stopped at the store, I might have come and actually seen the guys coming out of the driveway."

When he tried to drive up the canyon, Carroll found the road blocked by sheriff's deputies. He then called Mortensen's wife, who was getting off the freeway at Payson, to see if she knew what has happening.

She did not, so she met Carroll at a command post set up by police at a church in Payson. He said he left before officers had informed them about what had taken place.

Carroll said it was widely known that Mortensen, 70, had "an extensive collection" of guns and ammunition, including specialty weapons. Whether that may have been a motive for the crime, no one is saying.

He said his neighbor was a "survivalist-type person" who even had a bunker behind his house in the event of a catastrophe.

Carroll said he believes Mortensen may have let his guard down, thinking his family was at the door.

If that happened, "I suspect he was facing a gun (and) they got the drop on him. Knowing Kay, he was a fairly cautious guy."

Utah County Sheriff Jim Tracy said Tuesday his officers had identified "multiple persons of interest" and arrests were "possible but not imminent." About the only thing sheriff's officials released Wednesday was confirmation that Mortensen was the victim.

Authorities are also looking for a blue hatchback in connection with the homicide.

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