Chilling new insights into the murder of University of Utah student ChenWei Guo

Austin and Kathleen Boutain. Photos: Salt Lake County

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Nov. 16 (Gephardt Daily) — The man accused in the shooting death of University of Utah student ChenWei Guo has now been formally charged with aggravated murder, and could face the death penalty.

According to law enforcement officials, Austin Jeffrey Boutain, 24, is charged with 14 crimes.

The full list is:

  • Aggravated murder, a first-degree felony
  • Attempted aggravated murder, a first-degree felony
  • Aggravated kidnapping, a first-degree felony
  • Aggravated robbery, a first-degree felony
  • Two counts of possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person, a second-degree felony
  • Three counts of theft by receiving stolen property, a second-degree felony
  • Five counts of felony discharge of a firearm, a third-degree felony

Austin Boutain is charged in the Oct. 30 killing of Guo, 23, after a failed carjacking attempt in Red Butte Canyon. Boutain also is accused of attempting to kidnap and murder a female passenger who had been in the car with Guo.

According to the probable cause statement, filed by University of Utah Police Department Detective J. Kortright, police were called to the Heritage Center, near the mouth of Red Butte Canyon, and met with Kathleen Boutain, ” … who stated that her husband, Austin Jeffrey Boutain, had killed someone, was in possession of two guns, had pistol whipped her, and would kill someone for a vehicle.”

The reference to having killed someone likely referred to a man killed days earlier in Colorado.

ChenWei Guo posed with his parents for this Facebook photo.

A campus security officer heard four gunshots 33 minutes later, at 8:32 p.m., and they came from the direction of Red Butte Canyon.

Six minutes later, a woman called and said ChenWei Guo had been shot, and she had been in the vehicle with him when it happened.

“As officers made their way up Red Butte Canyon, they heard more gunshots,” the probable cause statement says. “They then saw (the woman) run toward them from the parking lot.” Officers continued up the canyon and located the vehicle. The car had a bullet hole through the driver’s side window. Guo was found inside, deceased.

The woman who had been in the car told police that she and Guo heard a knock on the driver’s side window. He began to drive away and was shot. The vehicle continued until it hit a rock. The woman said “… she climbed into Mr. Guo’s lap and attempted to drive the vehicle, but she did not know how to drive the car.”

The woman dialed 911 and was speaking to the operator when the assailant opened the passenger side door and told the woman to turn off the phone and exit the car.

“When the male turned or bent down, (the woman) ran down the road leading out of the canyon. (The woman) stated the male shot at her as she ran away.”

Austin Boutain was arrested Oct. 31 at the Salt Lake City Public Library after a librarian recognized him from media coverage.

Mitchell Bradford Ingle. Photo: Golden City Police

Boutain later told police that he and Kathleen had planned the murder of Mitchell Ingle in Golden, Colo., and took a rifle, a .44 caliber Ruger handgun, a .38 caliber Smith & Wesson handgun, ammunition, three knives, money, and Ingle’s F350 Ford truck. Boutain said he ” … set up camp in Red Butte Canyon, and gave the truck to a couple named Paul and Brittany because he didn’t want to be caught with it,” the probable cause statement says.

Boutain reportedly told police he and his wife wanted to leave Utah and travel to Tennessee.

“They came up with a plan to kidnap someone in Red Butte Canyon and drive the victim’s vehicle, along with the victim, to Tennessee,” the statement says.

“Along the way, they would use their victim’s money and/or financial transaction cards to purchase food, fuel and supplies. Once they reached Tennessee, they planned to kill the victim and hide or destroy the vehicle. An alternative plan was to kill the person in the canyon and take their vehicle.”

The two spent hours trying to decide on a victim, the statement says.

“Austin stated that Kathleen would point out a vehicle and encourage him to kill the person who was driving the vehicle,” the statement says. “At one point, Kathleen instructed Austin to continue looking for a victim while she packed up items from their camp and brought them closer to the parking lot for quick transfer to the vehicle.”

Boutain focused on a few cars, but each time, another vehicle would arrive, and he didn’t want witnesses. Boutain also told police he was hesitant to kill someone during the daylight.

“As the day went on, Austin stated Kathleen became upset and more vocal about him killing someone and getting a vehicle,” the statement says. “Kathleen insinuated that Austin was a coward. Austin and Kathleen engaged in a physical fight, and Kathleen left the area.”

Boutain stated that a black car passed Kathleen Boutain as she walked away, then parked in the lot. Boutain said he knocked on the driver’s side window with the intent of asking if the occupants had seen his wife.

“Austin stated he knocked on the driver’s side window several times, but received no response. Austin started to yell at the occupants and attempted to open the driver’s side door. The vehicle then started traveling and made a U-turn. Austin stated that he became enraged, pulled out the .44 caliber Ruger handgun, and shot at the driver’s side window. Austin stated he shot at the vehicle five times, until the gun was empty. The vehicle rolled forward until it hit a rock on the berm.”

Boutain said he went to retrieve the couple’s property, reloaded the gun, then returned to the car to steal it when he heard a female inside, apparently talking to a 911 operator. He sat down for a few minutes, then decided to return and kill the female, the probable cause statement says.

“Austin stated he wanted to lead the female to the foothills to kill her so her body would not be in the parking lot. The female exited the vehicle and threw the phone on the ground. Austin bent down to turn off the phone and the female ran down the road. Austin stated he quickly fired a shot at the female, but missed. Austin then put both hands on the gun, took better aim, and fired a second shot at the female. Austin stated he intended to kill the female.”

Ingle’s truck was later located in Rawlins, Wyo., in the possession of Paul Wappler and Brittany Dortch, who admitted, post Miranda, that they received the truck from A.J. and Katie in Utah. Boutain had told the two he took the truck from an old man.

An autopsy on Guo revealed he died from a gunshot to the neck, and his manner of death was homicide.

Boutain will not be approved for bail due to the egregious nature of the charges against him.

The probable cause statement also revealed that Boutain was a convicted sex offender and was on probation after being convicted of theft of a motor vehicle.

Kathleen Boutain, charged with planning a kidnapping and murder, faces charges of:

  • Three counts of criminal solicitation, one a first-degree felony and two second-degree felonies
  • Three counts of receiving stolen property, a second-degree felony

Both Boutains will also face charges in the Colorado murder case.

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