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Aggravated murder charges filed in deaths of Eureka teens

Criminal charges were filed Tuesday against a Eureka man accused of kidnapping a young Eureka couple, murdering them ...

Posted: Apr 4, 2018 9:59 AM
Updated: Apr 4, 2018 9:59 AM

Criminal charges were filed Tuesday against a Eureka man accused of kidnapping a young Eureka couple, murdering them and throwing their bodies down a mineshaft.

Jerrod William Baum, 41, faces eight felonies, including two counts of aggravated murder, a first-degree felony, for the deaths of Riley Powell and Brelynne "Breezy" Otteson.

Baum is also charged in 4th District Court with two counts of aggravated kidnapping, a first-degree felony; two counts of abuse or desecration of a dead body plus possession of a weapon by a restricted person, third-degree felonies; and obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony.

Powell, 18, and Otteson, 17, were last seen near Mammoth, Juab County, on Dec. 30. The couple planned to stop in Spanish Fork before going home to Eureka, where both lived with Powell's grandfather.

They ended up going to the home of Baum and his live-in girlfriend, Morgan Lewis Henderson, 34, in Mammoth, to visit Henderson.

"Jerrod Baum arrived home upset that the teens had visited her. Jerrod Baum then bound the victims' hands and feet, duct taped their mouths, and placed them in the back of Riley's Jeep. He then drove them to a remote location near Eureka and killed them in Morgan's presence, using a knife to stab and/or cut their throats.

"Baum then dumped their bodies into an open mine shaft," according to charging documents.

"Morgan described that Brelynne was forced to kneel near the open mine pit and witness the beating of her boyfriend, Riley Powell, and his stabbing, before she had her throat cut and was also thrown into the open mine," the charges state.

"Morgan related to police that prior to the killings, (Baum) was operating under the belief that Brelynne was pregnant, having offered to Brelynne and Riley his congratulations as they walked from the car to the open mine shaft."

On Jan. 11, Powell's missing Jeep was found partially hidden in trees, about a mile south of Cherry Creek Reservoir. The Jeep had two flat tires, leading investigators to suspect foul play.

On Jan. 25, Henderson was interviewed by police. She claimed there was a rumor that Powell and Otteson had been involved in a drug deal gone bad, court documents say. She also claimed the couple never showed up at her house that night, until the detective pressed her further with questions.

Two months later, on March 24, Henderson 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 a different story about Dec. 30.

That interview led investigators to the Tintic Standard Mine outside Eureka on March 27. A camera was lowered into the mine, which is more than 1,500 feet deep. The bodies of the young couple were found on a ledge 100 feet down.

Henderson was booked into the Utah County jail on March 30 for obstruction of justice.

Two funeral services have been announced for Powell and Otteson. The first will be Saturday in Eureka at the Tintic School District located next to Tintic High School. The second will be Saturday, April 14, in Tooele at the LDS Church meetinghouse located at 180 S. Coleman St.

Baum is scheduled to make his first court appearance this afternoon. More information will be posted throughout the afternoon.

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