Teen accused of killing Escalante man at rehab facility charged with murder

Yellow ribbons are being displayed at Turn-About Ranch and the surrounding community in memory of Jimmy Woolsey who was killed earlier this week after being attacked by a resident at the rehab facility, Dec. 7, Escalante, Utah | Photo courtesy of Turn-About Ranch/Facebook, St. George News

GARFIELD COUNTY – The teen accused of allegedly beating a 61-year-old man to death at a youth rehabilitation facility Tuesday has been charged with first-degree criminal homicide, aggravated murder. He is being charged as an adult.

The teen, identified by the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office Friday as 17-year-old Clay Brewer, of Snowflake, Arizona, is facing multiple felony and misdemeanor charges connected with the fatal attack of Jimmy Woolsey, an assault against another individual, and the resulting theft of a vehicle and police chase.

The incident occurred at the Turn-About Ranch rehabilitation facility near Escalante, Utah, that provides schooling and treatment for troubled youth between 12 and 18.

The teen is alleged to have beaten Woolsey to death Tuesday morning while at the rehabilitation facility.

Brewer told sheriff’s deputies that he had woken up “heartless” that morning, according to police records. He had been at Turn-About Ranch for about five days and said he had “a bad pill addiction.”

After arriving at the rehabilitation facility, Brewer said he had had suicidal thoughts and had drunk Bleach Monday night in an attempt to kill himself.

“He again stated he felt heartless and said that he had felt nothing while being pursued by deputies,” a Garfield County Sheriff’s deputy wrote in the probable cause statement connected to Brewer’s arrest. “Brewer said that his addiction had taken over his life and that it controlled him.”

Jimmy Woolsey, location and date of photo unspecified | Photo courtesy of Claudia Roundy Simpson, St. George News
Jimmy Woolsey, location and date of photo unspecified | Photo courtesy of Claudia Roundy Simpson, St. George News

Prior to 7 a.m., Tuesday, he was able to obtain a “metal stick” that has also been described as a “fire stick” and a piece of metal re-bar that was inside a cabin. When outside, Woolsey was evidently going to talk to Brewer who proceeded to hit Woolsey about the head and face at least 10 times with the metal stick.

Brewer allegedly told another resident who witnessed the attack not to say anything. However, the other resident told a female staff member that “Clay hit Jimmy.” The woman went to see what had happened and saw Woolsey on the ground with a sleeping bag on top of him.

While outside, Brewer went after her, according to the probable cause statement.

“He’s at me full blast hands up with the re-bar in his hands and he hit me on top of the head twice,” the woman told deputies.

The woman ran back into a building where other residents were and kept the door closed so Brewer could not enter. He demanded the keys to her vehicle or else he would “break in” and “kill everyone.”

Brewer had taken Woolsey’s keys and tried to get away in his truck, but it would not turn over, according to the police report. The woman gave Brewer her keys and he left. To keep the others safe, she took them out of a back door where they hid behind a building.

The deputy who wrote the police report noted the woman had two black eyes and her head in a bandage, and had multiple stitches. She was also distraught and emotionally traumatized from the incident.

“(Brewer) just killed Jimmy,” she said. “He tried to kill me.”

For her act of keeping others safe, however, the woman was praised by the Sheriff’s office.

Her act really, really saved what could have been so much worse,” Cheryl Church, of the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, told Fox 13 News.

The woman was taken to a nearby hospital in stable condition.

Michelle Lindsey, executive director of Turn About Ranch, told Fox 13 News that she had visited the woman in the hospital and she appeared to be in “better spirits.”

“She is doing well, thinking clearly, and recovering from the injury that she received,” Lindsey said.

Following the assaults, Brewer took the woman’s vehicle and proceeded to lead responding Garfield County Sheriff’s deputies on a high speed chase. Parts of the chase went through residential areas where deputies could see parents taking their children to school that morning.

The deputies performed a PIT maneuver that caused the vehicle to roll and crash against a tree. This allowed the deputies to apprehend and arrest Brewer, but not before he made an attempt to try and appear as if he had a gun, the deputy wrote.

His plan when the cops caught him was to hold up the ‘iron’ and act like he had a gun,” the deputy wrote. “‘So I could be shot and killed,'” Brewer told the deputy, according to the report.

Brewer went on to tell the deputy that with everything that had happened to him, coupled with coming off of drugs, he had “lost his mind” and allegedly never had a thought of beating anyone. He even described Woolsey as a “great guy” he had only known for two days prior to the assault.

Oh course, when you’re coming off drugs and alcohol like I was, you lose your mind,” Brewer said. “That’s where I was at. I lost my mind.”

A portion of a post made by Turn-About Ranch on its Facebook page Wednesday concerning the incident follows below:

Our hearts are heavy today, and there is no easy way to say this.

As some of you may have heard already, we have suffered a great loss at Turn-About Ranch. Staff and students mourned the loss of Jimmy Woolsey, who passed away after an alleged assault from a new student. The attacker is no longer at the ranch and is in custody. We can be grateful for the bravery of staff member Alicia Keller who risked herself to keep all others safe. She was injured, but is now home from the hospital.

In Jimmy’s memory, the town of Escalante has placed yellow ribbons up and down Main Street. Turn-About Ranch has started a charity fund set up at Wells Fargo Bank to help the Woolsey family with burial costs. 100% of the funds raised will be given to Jimmy’s family. Those able to contribute to this fund can do so by contacting Wells Fargo Bank at 435-826-4238…. We are all trying to recover from this tragic event.

In addition to the Wells Fargo account, donations can also be made to a GoFundMe account set up to aid with funerary and other expenses. The account’s goal was $15,000. As of 3 p.m. Friday, it has exceeded that amount at nearly $16,900.

Woolsey leaves behind a wife and 10-year-old daughter.

As for Brewer, he currently faces the following criminal offenses:

  • First-degree felony criminal homicide, aggravated murder
  • First-degree felony attempted criminal homicide, aggravated murder
  • First-degree felony attempted robbery
  • Third-degree felony for failing to respond to an officer’s signal to stop
  • Class A misdemeanor for tampering with evidence
  • Class A misdemeanor for reckless endangerment
  • Class B misdemeanor for theft
  • Class B misdemeanor for reckless driving.

Brewer is currently being held at a Juvenile Facility in Richfield, Utah.

Ed. note: St. George News has not verified information provided in connection with fundraising accounts mentioned in this article and does not assure that monies deposited to the accounts will be applied as described.

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

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.


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1 Comment

  • .... December 10, 2016 at 7:48 am

    This is tragic and my condolences to the Woolsey family and the change must stand and let justice be served

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