Human remains found near Virgin River in Washington County identified by authorities

Image created using photos from June 2017 of Elizabeth Carol Celeste Chatman, of Oklahoma, whose body was discovered Aug. 25, Washington County, Utah, Sept. 15, 2017 | Photos courtesy of Susan Chatman, St. George News

WASHINGTON COUNTY — Washington County Sheriff’s detectives and the Utah Office of the Medical Examiner have confirmed the identity of the body of a female found Aug. 25 in southwest Washington County near the Virgin River.

The body has been identified as 32-year-old Elizabeth Carol Celeste Chatman of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, sheriff’s Lt. Dave Crouse said.

Photo of Elizabeth Carol Celeste Chatman of Oklahoma with her nephew; Chatman’s body was found in southwest Washington County Aug. 25, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, circa May 2017 | Photo courtesy of Susan Chatman, St. George News,

Sheriff’s deputies and detectives were dispatched Aug. 25 to the remote area after human remains were discovered by a family recreating in the area and called 911.

Investigators found the body of a female, according to the initial report, which was sent to the Medical Examiner for identification and autopsy, as reported by St. George News Aug. 27.

Read more: Human remains found near Virgin River in Washington County

Investigators are still working with the Medical Examiner to determine cause of death.

“Detectives are actively following up on leads provided by the victim’s family, but we are also asking for the public’s assistance,” Crouse said.

If anyone saw Chatman between the second week of July through the near-end of August, the Sheriff’s Office is asking they come forward and share that information with investigators.

Information may be sent by email to tips@washeriff.net or by calling the sheriff’s investigation division at telephone 435-656-6644 or county dispatch at telephone 435-634-5730.  

The Chatman family in Oklahoma was notified this week by the Sheriff’s Office after positive identification was made.

Susan Chatman said her daughter left Oklahoma in June and was “heading to Vegas to start a new life.” She went on to say that her daughter turned 32 on July 30, a birthday the family missed being a part of.

The family believes the victim was possibly held against her will, and that her death was not accidental.

“We are waiting for the body to be released so we can bring her home,” Susan Chatman said.

This report is based on preliminary information provided by law enforcement or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.  

Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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56 Comments

  • comments September 15, 2017 at 11:08 pm

    My guess: lots of drugs and running around with lowlifes. After she OD’d her “crew” probly just dumped her body out in the desert. after all, what are friends for.

    • darkgoddess September 16, 2017 at 7:18 am

      Judge people much, Bob? Just because she has a bunch of tattoos doesn’t mean she’s a druggie. There are many with tattoos who are well educated and have good jobs. What we don’t know is: Was she traveling with someone? Was she hitchhiking? Did her car break down and she got picked up by a shady character? All in all, it sounds like foul play.

    • Frank September 16, 2017 at 10:28 pm

      I seriously hope you never have a daughter or a loved one that has to go to these circumstances. But it sounds like you’re a strong man so I’m sure you will protect her from that . Sarcasm

    • Casey September 26, 2017 at 8:03 pm

      She didn’t have any drugs or alcohol in her system….
      Ed. ellipsis

  • Redbud September 16, 2017 at 1:21 am

    One word can sum up this whole incident, along with other incidents of this nature: DRUGS!

    Do we sympathize with drug users? NO!

    Did they have a choice whether to use drugs or not? YES!

    END OF DISCUSSION!!!

    • Chel September 16, 2017 at 9:54 am

      LIZ was a real person and she was MY friend. I don’t care about anyone’s personal stance on drugs, no one deserves to have their life taken from them. It’s people like you who automatically make judgments about a person based on looks, or the little information you have. She was one of my best friends, and she was loved. As you sit there and judge my girl based on what you think you know, just remember she was killed, had her life taken away from her right as she was trying to get it together. I will light a candle and pray that you keep your mouth shut, and also learn to have compassion not SYMPATHY for human beings who are going through a rough patch. Unless you knew her you shouldn’t speculate as to what type of person she was. She was smart, funny, crazy, beautiful, sweet, open minded and one of a kind. RIP Babygirl, I won’t stop until I find out who did this to you.

      • izzymuse September 16, 2017 at 10:31 am

        Chel, sorry for your loss. Don’t let negative comments from strangers make you think all of us in southern Utah are judging, hating or condemning Liz. I know losing a loved one is very painful. Some days I have to simply take life one moment at a time. I lost my brother a few years ago. It has been difficult in many ways. I pray for her family and loved ones. God bless all of you.
        I hope you have healing and strength in your journey.
        Peace.

        • Chel September 16, 2017 at 11:28 am

          Thank you so much for the kind words. I think about her family reading the comments, and seeing the horrible things people are saying about her that aren’t true. Everyone deserves a second chance at an amazing life. I’m incredibly sad she made it so close, but never got the chance to flourish and thrive. I’m sorry for the loss of your brother, my sister passed away recently, and it is really hard. What people need to understand is that Oklahoma is a very strange place to be from. It’s literally a black hole that thrives on misery. If you don’t get out you get sucked in. Sorry, I digress. No one that left a negative comment knew her. Thank you again.
          Chelsea L.

          • comments September 16, 2017 at 2:27 pm

            “What people need to understand is that Oklahoma is a very strange place to be from. It’s literally a black hole that thrives on misery. If you don’t get out you get sucked in.”

            LBA, she talkin directly to you with this one. Maybe time to get out while u still can? lmao 😉

          • ladybugavenger September 16, 2017 at 10:20 pm

            I love Oklahoma!

      • comments September 16, 2017 at 12:01 pm

        It’s too bad you didn’t help her when she was still alive. Maybe you tried, who knows. Doesn’t matter now.

        • Chel September 16, 2017 at 12:23 pm

          It’s always going to matter, and she’s always going to matter. Friends help friends. I would’ve done anything to help her. I moved across the country a few years ago, and we lost contact, which is an unfortunate thing that seems to happen when people grow up and move.

          • comments September 16, 2017 at 2:28 pm

            You weren’t there when she needed real friends the most. How good of friend were you really?

      • Redbud September 17, 2017 at 2:22 am

        Chel. I agree with you that she was a real person. Also, I think that is just fine that you are her friend. Drug abusers are allowed to have friends in my opinion. Also, I never said that she or any other drug abuser should have their life taken away. I never said she wasn’t loved either. I am not judging her, just stating the facts, it is your choice to get butt-hurt that I am telling it how it is. I do agree with izzymuse that I judge, hate and condemn, not the person, but the drugs. I still stand by what I said though, there is a choice to do drugs or not to do drugs. With that choice comes consequences, and sometimes those consequences are learned the hard way. By the way, I am not saying she was not a nice person, I am sure she was a great person. But, she still used drugs. END OF DISCUSSION!!!

        • Chel September 17, 2017 at 6:41 am

          Apparently you are missing the larger picture here. Not one time did you mention that she was MURDERED. That is not acceptable. No one has the right to take someone’s life. I really feel sorry for people like you, so full of hate and judgment. No one deserves to be killed and discarded like a piece of trash. END OF DISCUSSION!!!!!

    • ladybugavenger September 16, 2017 at 10:29 am

      and she was on drugs (heroin?)

      As Nancy Reagan would say, “say no to drugs”

      Drugs lead to 2 places- jail or death

      • Casey September 26, 2017 at 8:06 pm

        I am just curious how you all keep saying she was on drugs !? Her tox report was clean !!!!

    • Leslee October 21, 2017 at 7:10 am

      Look Redbud.
      I am another person who knew Liz. She was NOT on drugs. Her tox report also came back clean. No drugs, no booze, no illicit substances of any kind.
      You are all posting things about someone YOU DIDN’T KNOW. HER FAMILY CAN SEE EVERYTHING YOU ARE REGURGITATING.
      Please reel in your tongues and your negative thoughts about her. You have no place doing this, at all. This is so selfish…to post these things about her and to argue that she was a drug addict because someone who loved her tried to set things straight.
      Not only are you making assumption but you are being horribly disrespectful.

  • Bob September 16, 2017 at 9:45 am

    Comments and Redbud, why do you have to assume it was drugs, just because she has tattoos and isn’t from Utah? These comments just show how ignorant you are to everything outside your Southern Utah bubble. Just keep hiding behind your online idenity and keep telling yourself your high and mighty because you go to your cult meetings on Sunday.

    • ladybugavenger September 16, 2017 at 10:35 am

      Actually, her friends comment confirmed it. “She was trying to get it together” and also no denial of drug use.

      I’m sure she was a lovely person at the core but tormented by drugs.

      It’s everyone’s best interest that people overcome drugs and live. She like many others lost the fight. But please, as a friend, don’t deny the truth.

      P.S. You don’t go to Vegas to get your life together. You go to Vegas to look normal.

      • comments September 16, 2017 at 11:59 am

        It’s too bad, but when they live that type of lifestyle it’s just a matter of time. Anyone who knew her well enough to know how bad her drug problems were probably isn’t surprised she met her end this way. And good point, why deny the truth?

      • Chel September 16, 2017 at 12:13 pm

        First of all, DO NOT misquote me. “Getting it together” does not mean that you’re trying to get off drugs, or trying to appear “normal”. What is normal?? If it’s people with your mentality, I want to be whatever the exact opposite of that is. I didn’t think that denial of drug use was needed. But apparently if you’re a beautiful woman of color with tattoos, you must be using drugs🙄 You have no right to say anything about her character. Using the phrase “lovely at the core” is condescending. Liz was more than lovely at the core. She was a beautiful human being with a huge heart, and an even bigger magnetic personality. And as for Vegas it can be a therapeutic place to commune with nature and your ancestors, a place to connect with the universe/god/higher power. As for denying the truth…I’m not. The truth is she was looking for her purpose in this world and someone ended her life before she could find it.

        • comments September 16, 2017 at 2:33 pm

          “And as for Vegas it can be a therapeutic place to commune with nature and your ancestors, a place to connect with the universe/god/higher power.”

          LMAO. last i checked vegas was for shows, gambling, and hookers. What planet are you living on? hahaha

          • Chel September 16, 2017 at 8:11 pm

            Last time I checked there are gambling, shows, and Pros is every major city. A person can start over wherever they choose. You need to get out of your little ghost town and see how things are in the real world. You’ve obviously lived an incredibly sad life, and should seek professional help for your problems. Take the time to brush the potato chip crumbs off of your double chin, step away from your computer, and do something constructive like better yourself, go outside, volunteer… Liz, I’m so sorry these morons are disrespecting your memory. If anyone with any compassion reads this please know Liz is a real person with a family and friends who adored her. Her energy was contagious and the world is dimmer without her in it. If you knew her you were lucky. No one has the right to judge anyone else’s life choices. More importantly there’s a murderer out there. Is that not more important???

    • Redbud September 17, 2017 at 2:25 am

      Bob, you are correct, I can not PROVE she used drugs, but I know she did. It has nothing to do with her tattoos. But at the same time, you can not prove that she didn’t do drugs. I have nothing to be sorry about, or apologize for. It was drugs, end of discussion! (sorry the truth hurts)

      • Bob September 18, 2017 at 8:54 am

        It’s funny how you use the phrase “end of discussion” like your some kind of authority figure. What makes you better than me at saying she was using drugs? What was that? you just know? You have been given some divine power to know someone does drugs by seeing their picture? Please! Please! me next, can you tell me when the last time I did drugs? Can you tell me the meaning of life? What about aliens? Do they exist? You must know all powerful one.
        End of Discussion! ROFL!

      • Aimee September 19, 2017 at 3:05 pm

        You may not be able to prove she didn’t do drugs, but the autopsy did. Maybe think about the loved ones of who you’re slandering before opening your mouth.

      • Casey September 26, 2017 at 8:08 pm

        Her tox report was clean !

      • Leslee October 21, 2017 at 7:13 am

        Why would you say that you know she did use drugs? This has me curious. How could you possibly know her?

  • Who September 16, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    Incredibly hateful, heartless people.

  • Elizabeth September 16, 2017 at 1:44 pm

    People who comment on news stories like this are some of the meanest people I know. Please have sympathy for her family and friends and leave it alone, unless you have words of condolence. She is a child of God and was a victim of someone or some thing. Either way, I know the pain of losing a child and my heart goes out to her family and friends. I am SO sorry!

    • jigsywinnietippy12 September 16, 2017 at 3:13 pm

      Comments and Lady Bug Avenger are the two resident, know it all haters on St.GeorgeUtah.com. They do nothing but spew hatred about everything in St. George, including religion, yet continue to live there. Must be too much trouble to move away. My condolences to the family and friends of this lady. Rest in peace.

      • ladybugavenger September 16, 2017 at 10:33 pm

        You’re not right, I do take that’s a lot of things (not people tho, just the things people do)
        You can’t serve two masters for you will love the one and hate the other. I hate drugs! I hate what they do to people. I hate the destruction that drugs do. It’s not the tattoos that show drugs it’s the shallowness of her face. Rip girl.

        • ladybugavenger September 16, 2017 at 10:41 pm

          Correction. It should say- you’re right not you’re not right

          • Chel September 17, 2017 at 6:50 am

            Please learn how to use the English language properly. Seriously there are programs to help with your illiteracy.

          • ladybugavenger September 17, 2017 at 9:40 am

            Oh I see, when you get defensive you attack….rawr!

        • Leslee October 21, 2017 at 7:13 am

          You need to stop assuming so much. Liz went through a lot.

  • r2d2 September 16, 2017 at 2:48 pm

    Bob on one hand you say don’t condemn someone, yet it sounds like you think everyone in Utah belongs to a CULT. What a hypocrite.
    As for Liz and her family and friends. My heart goes out to you and quit reading these stupid comments.

  • ladybugavenger September 17, 2017 at 9:54 am

    You know how many times i heard that my son was a good kid? It was too many times that’s all I know. I wanted to slap the stupid out of every single one of them. My son was on meth, couch surfing, dealing, stealing, lying and manipulating and people would tell me, “he’s a good kid.” I’d say, “no he’s not! but he will be.” He’s a good kid now. Thank you Jesus! From my experience of drug people (ex husband, myself (yes, Ladybug has been clean for a long time), and my son- for the last 40 years, my conclusion and 40 yrs of experience is, she had a drug problem. Do not tell people with drug problems that they are good. It’s their manipulation of you. See the truth. That could have been my son buried in the desert. And I would be equally pissed and honest of his struggles.

    • ladybugavenger September 17, 2017 at 10:01 am

      Oops, I typed the wrong # after careful calculation- my experience is 24 years not 40.

    • Chel September 17, 2017 at 11:26 am

      You are such a hypocrite. You had a problem at one time in your life and got your stuff together(apparently), so maybe you can relate to wanting a fresh start. To go somewhere nobody knows you, get your life in order by yourself. Maybe you’re not a strong enough person to do so… But once again you’re missing the point. SHE WAS MURDERED BY SOMEONE, WHO YOU MIGHT KNOW!!!!! If the majority of people in Utah have your mentality, I feel sorry for anyone that has to be subjected to that hatred and bigotry. You mentioned Jesus, would he be arguing with someone who’s friend was just murdered??? Would he have so many grammatical errors in his post??? Would he speak ill of someone he didn’t know?? Please move on. Find another story to pour your energy into. It’s painfully obvious you are probably chained to your computer chair surrounded by empty 2 liters, and McDonald’s wrappers. Go outside, exercise, do something positive. Pass out condoms to hookers, give clean needles to addicts, provide medical care for strippers, anything. I don’t understand why this is any of your business. Why do you care so much about someone you didn’t know, who’s not a “good person?” Move on with your day, and your life. This doesn’t concern you. What should concern you is the numerous murders in your area, which again is the whole point.

      • Redbud September 17, 2017 at 1:34 pm

        Chel, they have yet to prove she was murdered. She may or may not have been, but to get straight to the point, does it matter? If you do drugs, and it leads you on a path to darkness and despair, even death or murder, that was their choice. I am still not saying it is deserved, it is merely a consequence of their actions where one thing led to another. You also claim this does not concern us, and that it’s not our business. If someone is bringing drugs and their associated problems into my community where it starts affecting other people, then guess what, it just BECAME our business. If you want to do drugs, and be surrounded by people who just “accept” you for who you are, Utah is the wrong place to live. Why? Because our community has not, nor will ever tolerate drug users. We will still try to help those who want to quit and improve their lives, but that has to come from within, no one can be forced. It’s called free agency. As far as providing condoms to hookers, and needles to addicts, I would never support a bad habit. If they had a genuine desire to come clean, I would support them doing so. Bottom line is, if people would stop doing drugs, the deaths would stop along with it. Drugs kill (one way or another), and that’s a fact that can’t be disputed no matter how hard you may try. END OF DISCUSSION!!!

        • comments September 17, 2017 at 3:12 pm

          I think she OD’d down by the river or OD’d somewhere else and her good friends dumped her out there. Even if she was murdered it was more than likely drug related. Was the body in good enough shape that they could even determine a cause of death? Things like this are the reason people leave a place like vegas. Drug murders and bodies of overdosed addicts strewn around all over are just part of life there. Oh, Chel, you’re an idiot. When is the last time you even saw this woman you claim as a friend?

          • Chel September 17, 2017 at 4:09 pm

            She wasn’t found deceased in Las Vegas you moron, she was found deceased in your shanty town. She never made it to Las Vegas…apparently your mom /one of your dads other wives/teach you how to read the facts??

          • comments September 17, 2017 at 8:30 pm

            How do u know she wasn’t living in vegas the last few mos? How do u know she didn’t get heavy into vegas’s drug scene? and she was found way out in the desert by the river, not in town. Man Chel, you are insane and dumb. I hope u will get out to your friends funeral at least, geeze. With friends like you…… imagine.

        • Chel September 17, 2017 at 3:40 pm

          You cannot see the forest for the trees. Now I see why the LDS community is characterized as close minded, judgmental, uncaring individuals. Do you have proof of her specifically bringing drugs to your shanty town??? Show me pictures or anything you have proving irrefutably that she was bringing drugs into your community, then you can make that accusation. I recently saw a program about the horrible opiate epidemic in SLC…it even seems some of the elders are hiding a dirty little secret, but that’s okay because they go to church. I feel so sorry for you, your life seems absolutely miserable. Don’t you have anything better to do with your time. Don’t you have a knitting circle, or a frumpy clothes making session with your sister wives??? Is your 14 year old daughter wife number 12 for a pedophile??

          • ladybugavenger September 17, 2017 at 8:02 pm

            Chel, you are all over the place. Defending what? Defending that she wasn’t on drugs? You lost contact with her and you come in like tornado. The picture is clear. She’s on drugs in the picture. There are this many comments because of you Chel. It’s all of our business. You can’t come in throwing stones and then say it’s not our business. You didn’t answer comments question. When was the last time you saw this woman?

          • ladybugavenger September 17, 2017 at 8:06 pm

            You call me a hypocrite. I say to you, I switched sides. I went from the dark side to the light. I’ve been through more trauma and pain than the average person. You can’t hurt me Chel. I’m redeeemed by the blood of Jesus. You can call me whatever you want. Just don’t call me late for dinner

          • comments September 17, 2017 at 8:34 pm

            Chel is one venomous ol’ character, i’ll tell ya. She’s just raging and not dealing in facts any longer. Probably wasn’t much of a friend to the victim. Maybe high school buddies? Anyways, sad situation, really.

          • Chel September 19, 2017 at 9:21 am

            Ok, she left OK 6/25 and was found 8/25, that’s two months, not a few. And she was in an advanced state of decomposition, which means she was killed before 8/25. Also, she NEVER MADE IT TO HER DESTINATION. Cumments, I only deal in facts and scientific evidence. And as far as my friendship with her it went way beyond high school. And as far as venomous I definitely am, I got that bite that will leave you dead. Have a great day, and wonderful life!!!

  • sagemoon September 18, 2017 at 11:03 am

    I’m coming out of hiding just to make this comment. Chel, I’m sorry for your loss and I’m sorry you came to this site to read an article about your friend only to be greeted with hostility and a bunch of judgmental a$$hats. I’m rather surprised about LBA. She’s usually funny and I know she is very much anti-drug but I’m surprised she doesn’t have more compassion in this case. I look at the pictures of your friend and I see a woman with shiny hair, clear skin, clear eyes, and a normal weight. Her tattoos are decorative, not gang or prison type tats. I have no reason to assume she was an addict. Perhaps the hardships you refer to involve divorce, custody issues, job issues, family issues…who knows. That is none of our business. You are right that the primary fact of this story is that we should be wondering about whether there is a murderer among us. I look forward to seeing justice be done on your friend’s behalf.

  • Jessica September 19, 2017 at 2:33 pm

    So SAD That you people that want to speak negative about a story that you read on Facebook but you don’t know the person and you’re so quick to judge may you find your higher power or maybe even find Jesus! I knew this girl for 20 + years and it just hurts my heart to see people make such quick judgment on someone just by their looks and what they have on their body Ugh. You don’t know her you don’t know her story you don’t know her struggles in life or what happened so therefore you should keep all your negative words to yourself no one wants to read that BS!

  • jigsywinnietippy12 September 19, 2017 at 4:26 pm

    Jessica and Chel, I am very sorry for your loss, and may this lady rest in peace. Unfortunately, most people are very judgmental. I try to remember this: Matthew 7:1 – 3 , Judge not, lest ye be judged.

  • Chel September 19, 2017 at 6:44 pm

    To all the judgmental people: THIS JUST IN, there were no drugs or alcohol in her system, or with her body or belongings, the autopsy confirmed it. In the future it would be wise for all y’all not to slander, accuse, or blame the victim in these situations. There seems to be a lot of bodies turning up in the same area Liz was found, and there will probably be more. I hope you LDS Lunatics realize that you are full of hatred, bigotry, and are extremely close minded. RIP Liz, I love you, and am so grateful I had you as a friend, and now I have you as an angel. Love you Babygirl ❤️🙏🏼🌹

    • jigsywinnietippy12 September 19, 2017 at 8:21 pm

      Chel – You need to know that not every single person living in St. George or in the state of Utah is of the LDS religion. Also, there are many very good LDS people, in fact most of them. I am not LDS, but have LDS friends who are amazing , wonderful people. There are people living here from all walks of life, and several different religions. Look up St. George religions on the internet. Just about every religion and church is here, along with LDS. Not only that, but LDS churches welcome anyone, and you don’t have to be a member, unless you want to use a temple for a marriage or baptism ceremony. I think most of the negative comments here are from non LDS people. The true LDS members do not attack in this manner, I can guarantee it.

  • Susan October 18, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    Liz was our daughter… her life was difficult…she was an addict but was sober for over two years recently got her two year chip…. just because she had tattoos did not make her a low life…she was a beautiful young woman, very intelligent She was diagnosed as a young teenager with bi-polar disorder. This is a complicated medical diagnoses and leads to impulsive behaviors and thought process at times….(educate yourself) . LIz never hurt anyone, she choose not to have children due to the possibility of inherited mental illness. It is very difficult to find care for mental illness when you do not have money. She worked, she went to school, she tried very hard . She struggled and suffered allot, yet she would help anyone who needed help. She was our only daughter, she had older brothers who loved her. We stood by her through hard times and good times. She always, always stayed in touch with her family. There were zero drugs, zero alcohol in her system at autopsy, no trauma found to her body…imagine if you will spending nearly 90 days trying to find your daughter only to get a call that her ” badly decomposed body was found by a river in a dessert remote area” that she had been identified by her finger prints….knowing for all these days something was bad wrong…because she always communicated and she had her phone…it is easy to judge people by the way they look…or what you may think you know about them… we may never know what happened….but know this tomorrow it could be you or your child or sister….She went to Las Vegas on an impulse to start a new life….she had no idea that life would not be in this world. May God soften your hearts to the suffering in he world.

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