Salt Lake City man charged with attempted murder in stabbing of woman found naked in alley

Salt Lake City police responded to the area of 280 E. Hampton Ave. after a woman was found stabbed on April 21, 2022. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Steve Milner

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, April 28, 2022 (Gephardt Daily) — A 22-year-old Salt Lake City man was charged with attempted murder Thursday in the stabbing of a woman found severely injured and naked in an alley.

Dontel Nako Cowans was arrested April 21 after a 48-year-old stabbing victim was found by neighbors near 280 E. Hampton Ave. and “thought to be dead,” according to charging documents filed in 3rd District Court.

Police say the woman sustained numerous injuries, including facial stab wounds. Paramedics transported the critically injured woman to the hospital, where she underwent emergency surgery.

She remains unconscious and has lost the use of her left eye, charges state.

“Detectives learned that the victim has some brain activity, but if medical support is removed, the victim will die,” police state in the charges.

Police say the woman is homeless, which may have been a motive in the stabbing, according to charging documents.

“The victim was homeless, and detectives learned that [Cowans] has an issue with homeless people and does not like them,” charges state.

A 2002 Hyundai Accent with no license plates also was found in the alley, with blood on the front seats, passenger-side door and rear bumper, charges state. There was also “a significant amount of blood” on the ground by the passenger-side door, court documents state.

“A blood trail led around the curve in the alley, where a pile of clothes and a blanket were located that were on the ground, dirty and had blood on them,” charging documents state. “Near the clothing and the blanket, more blood was smeared on the wall.”

Salt Lake City police learned the vehicle had been sold at auction on April 4 to Cowans, whose address was “a few blocks from the crime scene,” charges state.

After obtaining a search warrant, police searched Cowans’ home and found “brown work boots with what appeared to be blood on them” and “a set of keys with a tag matching the vehicle found in the alley,” court documents state. The boots seized from the home also matched a print found at the crime scene, police said.

The Salt Lake City Police Department’s Crime Lab also found a fingerprint belonging to Cowans on the exterior of the vehicle. Technicians used the Automated Fingerprint Identification System, a national law enforcement database, to confirm the print.

Cowans told police he parked the vehicle in the alley “because it wasn’t insured,” charges state, “and he removed the temporary tag from the vehicle so people would not know it belonged to him.”

Cowans is being held without bail on charges of attempted murder and aggravated sexual assault, both first-degree felonies, as well as two counts of mayhem and one count of obstructing justice, second-degree felonies.


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