More than 100,000 pounds of copper stolen from Arizona power plant ends up in St. George; 2 in custody

Composite image using background stock image of police lights, tape by Thea Design/iStock/Getty Images Plus; overlay image of copper roll with wire cutters by Gilles Paire/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Two Arizona suspects were arrested and face multiple charges after St. George Police officers received a tip that more than 100,000 pounds of copper, allegedly stolen from an Arizona power plant, was being sold at a recycling facility in St. George.

The arrest and charges stem from an investigation that was set in motion on July 9 when the St. George Police Department was contacted by an investor with a power and railroad company who reported that hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of copper had been stolen from the company headquartered south of Page, Arizona. 

According to the probable cause statements filed in support of the arrests, more than 60 miles of copper has been stolen and sold since March.

Approximately 100,000 pounds of the copper stolen allegedly ended up at a recycling facility in St. George, where, according to information obtained by the investor and forwarded to police, 20,000 pounds had already been sold.

Police also learned that the size, style and quality of copper allegedly stolen from Arizona was unique to that facility alone, and the only other company that uses that particular type of copper is based in China. 

Two weeks later, officers followed up with the recycling plant in St. George, and on the morning of  July 23, they obtained the names of individuals who had recently sold copper to the facility, one of which was 25-year-old Chelsea Slowtalker, of Kaibeto, Arizona. The report also states that she had a number of recent transactions at the recycling plant, starting in May, for which she was paid a total of $8,800, the affidavit states.

Chelsea Slowtalker, 25, of Kaibeto, Arizona, booking photo taken in Washington County, Utah, July 23, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St George News

Later that same day, the recycling plant contacted police reporting that two suspects were at the business trying to “scrap” or recycle more than $1,500 worth of the same unique copper as what was reported stolen from the power facility in Arizona. 

Officers responded to the facility in St. George where they encountered the two suspects: Chelsea Slowtalker and 28-year-old Carl Slowtalker, also of Kaibeto, Arizona, who police later learned were brother and sister. 

Both were transported to the police department for an interview where they reportedly admitted that the copper was taken from the “power plant and associated railroad” based out of Arizona.

The suspects also allegedly told police that multiple people were involved in the operation and implicated another family member who they said brought the load of copper to St. George.

Carl Slowtalker initially told police that a family member had given the copper to him as a trade for a “3-wheeler” and said he knew the copper had been taken from the power plant facility, according to police.

He said he is currently out of work and trying to make money to support his family, which is why officers found him at the recycling facility that day. He also told officers “that basically the entire Navajo Reservation was taking and ‘scrapping’ the copper for money,” criminal efforts that began after a radio station announced the closure of the power plant, the investigator noted in the report.

Carl Slowtalker, 28, of Kaibeto, Arizona, booking photo taken in Washington County, Utah, July 27, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St George News

Due to the total amount of copper that was allegedly sold, combined with the attempted sale that was interrupted by police July 23, both suspects were transported and booked into the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility facing multiple charges that were filed Monday.

Chelsea Slowtalker faces two second-degree felony charges, including one count of receiving stolen property and one count of theft by deception for selling the metal to the recycling plant in Washington County. She is being held in Washington County on $10,700 bail and is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.

Carl Slowtalker faces two third-degree felony charges for theft deception and receiving stolen property as well as misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance and paraphernalia charge for a substance that allegedly tested positive for methamphetamine. Carl Slowtalker made an initial appearance in 5th District Court on Tuesday and remains in custody in Washington County on $13,440 bail.

The investigation into the incident is ongoing. Requests for a comment from the St. George Police Department have gone unanswered.

This report is based on information provided by law enforcement and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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