MURRAY, Utah (KUTV) — The suspect who was arrested after a woman and dog were found dead from a Murray storage unit fire was released from jail one day prior on bond for a probation violation, according to court documents.
Officials responded to the scene of CubeSmart Self Storage at 4608 South 900 East just before 5 p.m. on Saturday.
After further investigations, Alexander Wardell, 30, was arrested on Sunday on one felony charge of kidnapping and one charge of negligent homicide.
Murray police said Wardell admitted to intentionally locking his girlfriend in the storage unit and walking away. Sometime after Wardell left the area, the storage unit reportedly caught fire and the door remained closed until firefighters were able to pry it open.
2News found that a warrant was issued by Salt Lake City police against Wardell for a probation violation on Thursday. Court documents show that Wardell paid a $5,000 bond and was released the next day.
The probation violation comes from a charge of third degree aggravated assault and criminal mischief that Wardell had been found guilty for, in which he allegedly beat his former girlfriend with a golf club and threatened her with a knife in December 2018. He also has a protection order filed against him from that partner.
He spent 220 days in jail and then pleaded guilty to the charges, in exchange for the judge removing his five-year prison sentence and giving him 36 months probation instead.
However, in January 2021, he violated that probation, resetting the 36-month period.
Five months later, he violated probation again and was arrested, this time having to serve more time in jail along with resetting his probation.
He was released to a sober living house in March of 2022, and in June he violated again — this time with a serious charge of being caught illegally to be in possession of a dangerous weapon.
Again, his probation was set back, but he was allowed to complete his residential treatment.
In an August evaluation, Wardell's probation officer recommended that the courts revoke his probation and order his original prison sentence due to his continual violation. But that appears to not have been followed up on, as Wardell was arrested on Feb. 16 for his fifth probation violation — with jail logs showing he was released on bond the next day.
Wardell is currently in the Salt Lake County Jail on charges of kidnapping and homicide, as well as a probation violation charge that appeared on Sunday.
It will be his sixth violation for the original charge.
No further details have been released on the homicide itself or what occurred.
The identity of the victim from Saturday's fire was not initially released.
Editor's note: This report originally stated that Wardell was released on Thursday. This has since been corrected to be Friday.
If you or someone you know are experiencing domestic or dating violence, resources are available to help. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.
The Utah Domestic Violence Coalition hotline can be reached 24/7 at 1-800-897-5465, or the National Domestic Violence Hotline is available at 1-800-799-7233.
A list of local domestic violence shelters can be found at domesticshelters.org. Resources and shelter are also available through the YWCA of Utah.