Juab County man booked on double murder charges in case of missing teens; jealousy may have sparked crimes

Jerrod William Baum. Photo: Utah County Jail

JUAB COUNTY, Utah, March 29, 2018 (Gephardt Daily) — A Mammoth, Utah, man has been booked for aggravated murder in the case of missing teenagers Riley Powell and Brelynne “Breezy” Otteson, whose bodies are believed to have been found Thursday 100 feet down an abandoned mine shaft in Utah County.

Jerrod William Baum, 41, has been booked into the Utah County Jail on charges of:

  • Two counts of aggravated murder, a first-degree felony
  • Two counts of aggravated kidnapping, a first-degree felony
  • Possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person, a third-degree felony
  • Abuse or desecration of a dead human body, a third-degree felony
  • Tampering with a witness, a third-degree felony

According to preliminary information from a probable cause statement, it appears the murders may have been sparked by jealousy after Powell and Otteson visited Baum’s girlfriend, Morgan Lewis Henderson, when Baum was not present.

On Jan. 9 of this year, detectives visited the home of Jerrod Baum and Henderson, to ask about Riley Powell, because police were aware that Baum and Powell knew each other, according to a probable cause statement.

“Jerrod is known to law enforcement to associate with the criminal element in and around Eureka and the Juab County area,” the probable cause statement says.

Baum and Henderson repeated rumors that Riley had died after fighting with another man on New Years Eve, but did not admit any additional knowledge. Police continued their investigation, and used a warrant to obtain Facebook messages between Powell and Henderson, arranging for a meeting.

Detectives interviewed Henderson at her home, in Mammoth, while Baum was in a detective’s car. Henderson told officers that Powell and Otteson had never arrived, then said they had arrived, smoked marijuana, and left about 40 minutes later.

On March 25, Henderson was interviewed by detectives at the Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office, and was read her Miranda Rights.

“Morgan told detectives that the day after Riley and Brelynne came to her house, Jerrod let her know that he knew they had come over. He told her that he had previously instructed her not to have guy friends and that it was too bad because he has never killed an innocent before.

“She (Henderson) said that their shower smelled strongly of bleach. She said that on New Year’s Eve he (Baum) burned some stuff in a barrel that smelled like bleach and the flames were green.

“She said that later he told her that he took care of Riley and Brelynne. She said that he told her that he made Riley suffer but that he felt bad about Brelynne and made it quick and painless. She said that he became somewhat emotional about Brelynne. She also told us that he said he did not have time to dig a grave. She believes that she may know where he dumped them although he has not told her.”

The probable cause statement continues, saying Baum had asked Henderson to hide cellphones in a stocking, then he put it in a sludge barrel near their house in Mammoth. A warrant was obtained, and the cellphones were found in the barrel, as were lengths of rope, duct tape, two knife sheaths, and baby wipes, among other things.

Henderson then admitted she had driven Powell’s Jeep out to Cherry Creek, where it was found on Jan. 16. The statement says investigators discovered the possible site where Powell and Otteson’s bodies had been dumped, and the remains were recovered on Thursday.

The bodies had their hands tied behind their backs, with rope that appeared to match that found in the barrel. Both bodies had knife wounds, the statement says.


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