Baum may face death penalty for killing of 2 Utah teens

Jerrod Baum (Photo: Utah County Sheriff's Office)

NOTE: The story contains graphic descriptions and should be read with discretion.

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(KUTV) Jerrod William Baum could be put to death for his alleged role in the death of two Utah teens who were killed and dumped down a mine shaft.

The Utah County Attorney’s Office shared the charges Tuesday, that includes eight criminal counts including two counts of aggravated murder. Other charges include kidnapping, desecration of a human body, possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person and obstruction of justice.

Documents say that the suspect forced one teen, Breezy Otteson, to watch as he stabbed her boyfriend, Riley Powell, to death before dumping him down a mine shaft. It says Baum then slit her throat.

According to newly released probable cause documents from police, Baum's girlfriend Morgan Henderson was arrested on an unrelated offense and was interviewed by police about the missing teens. During this interview, police said she admitted to police that she knew about the disappearance of Otteson and Powell. She had been previously interviewed by police but this interview led investigators to the two bodies.

The two teens went missing Dec. 30. Their bodies were later recovered from Tintic Standing Mine Number Two, near Tintic, Utah.

During that March 25 interview, she told police she was present when the pair was killed.

The new document said

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

She also described, according to the documents, that Brelynne (Breezy) was forced to kneel and witness the beating of her boyfriend, Powell, and his stabbing.

Her throat was then slit and she was also thrown into the open mine.

The documents also say that the medical examiner's report about the bodies later located in the mine corroborate Henderson's statements in interviews to police.

She told police that Powell was stabbed in the groin and this information was included in the reports "and likely indicate she would have been present when the killing occurred."

Police said that Baum believed Otteson was pregnant when the two were killed -- police said Tuesday that was not the case -- and that he offered them "congratulations as they walked from the car to the open mine shaft."

After the killing Henderson told police Baum told her that he had made Riley suffer but that he felt bad about about Otteson, so he made her death quick and painless.

According to the report:

Further, injuries to the bodies of the victims, as documented by the medical examiner, bear out details of Morgan's confession to police and indicate that Morgan was likely present, and that it would have been unlikely that she alone could have accomplished the kidnapping and murder of the victims, to include inflicting the serious sharp and blunt force trauma and injuries seen in the body of Riley Powell.

Baum faces two counts of aggravated murder, a first-degree felony in Utah, punishable by life in prison without parole or a prison term of not less than 25 years and that may be for life. It is a capital felony punishable by death if a notice of intent to seek the death penalty is filed by the prosecutor within 60 days of the arraignment of the defendant.

Police said Henderson is under arrest for obstruction of justice but formal charges have not been filed.


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