Girlfriend of man accused of murdering Utah teens faces 28 new charges

The bodies of Riley Powell and Brelynn "Breezy" Otteson, both 18, were recovered from the Tintic Standard Mine in Dividend, Utah, undated | Photos of Powell and Otteson courtesy of Amanda Hunt, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Morgan Henderson is facing additional felony charges for obstructing justice for her role in the murder of two Utah teens that went missing a few days after Christmas 2017.

The new charges, which were filed Monday by the Utah County Attorney’s Office, stem from the disappearance and murder of Riley Powell and Brelynn “Breezy” Otteson, both 18, who went missing when the two left Tooele in a 1999 blue Jeep Grand Cherokee to return home to Eureka on the morning of Dec. 30. They were never seen or heard from again.

Henderson, 34, was later arrested on allegations she interfered with the investigation and was charged with two counts of obstruction of justice at the end of March after detectives located the bodies of the two teens in the Tintic Standard Mine No. 2, located in Dividend, according to a statement released March 31 by the Utah County Sheriff’s Office.

Read more: Prosecutors may seek death penalty for Utah man accused of slaying 2 teens

The 28 additional felony charges are also for obstruction of justice, with each charge reflecting a separate lie Henderson allegedly told police, multiplied by two, “one for each murdered victim,” Utah County Attorney Randy Kennard II said in the probable cause statement filed Monday.

Morgan Henderson, of Eureka, booking photo from March 30, 2018 | Photo courtesy of the Utah County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

Henderson’s boyfriend, 41-year-old Jerrod William Baum, of Eureka, was arrested on two counts of aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping and abuse of a human body, along with a single count of obstructing justice, witness tampering and possession of dangerous weapon by restricted person. He is being held without bail.

Read more: Updated: 2 bodies recovered from mine believed to be teens missing for 89 days; Utah man arrested

In January, police conducted multiple interviews with Henderson, who initially denied having any knowledge of the teens’ whereabouts, Kennard said in court documents.

Then she began changing her story, telling police in January that the teens were at her home in Mammoth the night they disappeared but that she had no idea what had happened to them once they left. She told police as late as Jan. 30 that neither she nor Baum had anything to do with the teens’ disappearance.

Area near Tintic Standard Mine No. 2, located in Dividend, where memorial is set up for  Riley Powell and Brelynne “Breezy” Otteson who were murdered Dec. 30, 2017, Utah County, Utah, June 17, 2018 | File photo courtesy of Amanda Hunt, St. George News

Henderson also provided false information to authorities, including a statement she made during an interview that the victims had ‘ripped off some Mexicans,’ while in another statement she told police that one of the teens was on methamphetamine, while in yet another she said one of the teens told her they just wanted to “disappear.”

All the while, the teens’ families and friends searched for them throughout Utah, and the case garnered national attention as those searches continued for nearly 90 days until the bodies were discovered.

Police said that after the discovery Henderson admitted that she had been present on or about Dec. 30 when Baum “murdered the victims at the mouth of the mine and then threw their bodies into the shaft.”

Henderson also provided further details of the crime that were corroborated by the evidence uncovered during the investigation.

Henderson told police that Baum caught the teens at the couple’s residence after he warned her on previous occasions not to have male visitors at the house without him being present, according to court documents.

She went on to say Baum then bound the teens in their Jeep before driving them to an abandoned mine where he killed them and threw their bodies down the mine shaft.

Henderson is scheduled to appear at the 4th District Court in Provo for a preliminary hearing Aug. 15. She remains in the custody of the Utah County Jail on $100,000 cash-only bail.

Henderson’s attorney, Spencer Thomas in Provo, told St. George News Wednesday that he “didn’t really wish to comment on the matter.”

Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

This report is based on statements from police or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings, and the report will be further updated as information becomes available.

Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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2 Comments

  • PlanetU July 11, 2018 at 9:16 pm

    Guess she couldn’t find anyone better. She had better serve a long sentence.

  • 42214 July 11, 2018 at 10:30 pm

    Mike Pee is a key witness in the case, he was there when it happened.

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