PROVO — The Utah State Medical Examiner's Office confirmed Friday what police and family member suspected — that two bodies pulled out of an abandoned mine earlier this week are Brelynne "Breezy" Ottesen and Riley Powell.
The bodies of the young Eureka couple, who had been missing for about three months, were discovered Tuesday about 100 feet down the Tintic Standard No. 2 mine near Mammoth, Juab County. They were recovered on Wednesday.
Jerrod William Baum, 41, was arrested for investigation of two counts of aggravated murder, two counts of aggravated kidnapping and two counts of desecration of a dead body, among other charges.
Baum was allegedly upset that Powell, 18, and Otteson, 17, had visited his girlfriend on Dec. 30 while he wasn't there, according to a police affidavit filed in 4th District Court. Baum is accused of confronting the couple just as they were leaving, tying them up in the back of Powell's Jeep, stabbing them to death, then dumping their bodies in the mine.
Otteson's body was recovered from the mine with her hands tied behind her back and Powell "appeared to have multiple knife wounds as well, and his hands were also bound behind his back," the affidavit states.
"The condition of their bodies strongly suggested that their deaths were not accidental," a Friday press release from the Utah County Sheriff's Office said.
Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Spencer Cannon said the exact cause of death has not been determined, but the medical examiner noted that both victims suffered multiple injuries, including from stabbing and from being dropped into the mine — any of which could have been fatal. The manner of death for both was listed as homicide.
"Because of the proximity in time (of when the injuries were inflicted) they couldn't say which one did cause the deaths, only that multiple injuries would have been fatal," Cannon said.
The big break for investigators came on Sunday when Baum's girlfriend, Morgan Lewis Henderson, 34, was pulled over in Sanpete County and arrested for investigation of drug and weapons charges. While she was being interviewed at the Sanpete County Sheriff's Office, she told investigators what happened on Dec. 30.
Detectives had talked to Henderson before, but she gave them different stories, Cannon said. Why she decided to allegedly come clean on Sunday was not immediately known.
Baum was already in custody when the bodies were discovered, Cannon said.
In 2004, a federal indictment was filed against Baum on weapons charges. That case, through appeals, probation violations and other factors, was still active as of November.
In November, Baum was convicted on federal drug and weapons charges. He was sentenced to time already served so he was not sent to prison, according to court records. However, he was placed on supervised release.
As part of the conditions of his release, Baum was ordered to "participate in a mental health treatment program under a co-payment plan as directed by the probation office, take any mental health medications as prescribed, and not possess or consume alcohol, nor frequent businesses where alcohol is the primary item of order, during the course of treatment or medication," according to court documents.
Before Baum was booked into the Utah County Jail for investigation of the two killings, he was booked into the Juab County Jail by U.S. marshals for violating the conditions of his federal probation, Cannon said.
He was charged Feb. 13 in state court with being a restricted person in possession of a weapon.
Baum — who has a swastika and "white power" tattooed on his head, according to jail records, as well as other tattoos on his arms and legs such as an "evil demon," a "W," and the words "life by nature power by choice" and "natures finest" — also pleaded guilty to an amended charge of attempted possession of a dangerous weapon in 2003, court records state.
In 1992, when Baum was just 15, he was charged with attempted murder and 10 other charges. He stole a pickup truck from a Provo business and later a van where he found a .38-caliber handgun, and traveled to Heber City, where he stole a Trans Am. He then went to a Burger King in Orem and used the handgun to rob the business, firing at two employees who followed him into the parking lot.
He was first incarcerated with the Utah Department of Corrections in March of 1993.
While incarcerated at the Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison, Baum was one of five inmates charged with more than 30 felonies in connection with a five-hour riot that occurred on Aug. 9, 1994,and caused an estimated $40,000 in damage.5 comments on this story
He was granted parole in 2002, but his parole was revoked in 2003 when he was arrested for attempting to purchase a dangerous weapon, according to prison records. Baum was paroled again in 2004 and sent back to prison on another parole violation shortly after. He was discharged in March 2005.
Baum was placed on probation in June for drugs and weapons-related convictions.
As of Friday, Henderson had not been arrested in connection with the deaths but remained in the Sanpete County Jail for her arrest on Sunday.
Cannon said additional arrests in connection with the killings — possibly for obstruction of justice — are "likely."