Jerrod Baum faces multiple criminal charges in the disappearance and deaths of Brelynne Otteson and her boyfriend, Riley Powell

By Jeff Truesdell
April 04, 2018 06:42 PM
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A Utah man allegedly “forced” a 17-year-old girl to kneel and watch as he stabbed her 18-year-old boyfriend, then slashed the girl’s throat before throwing both victims down an abandoned mine shaft, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE.

“She was right there,” Utah County Sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Cannon tells PEOPLE. “Unless she closed her eyes, she would have had to see it.”

Victims Brelynne “Breezy” Otteson and her boyfriend, Riley Powell, were reported missing Jan. 2. Their bodies were recovered months later, on March 28, based upon information from Baum’s girlfriend, who had been arrested on unrelated charges, the sheriff’s office said in a news release.

Prosecutors detailed the allegations in the newly released documents as suspect Jerrod William Baum, 41, briefly appeared in court Tuesday after being charged with aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping, abuse or desecration of a human body and obstructing justice, among other counts, according to local news station KUTV, The Salt Lake Tribune and CBS News.

Baum has not yet entered a plea and is scheduled to be back in court with a public defender on April 26. No attorney was available to speak on his behalf.

He is being held in the Utah County jail with no bond.

Jerrod Baum
AP/REX/Shutterstock

A charging document and probable cause affidavit, obtained by PEOPLE, allege that Baum kidnapped the teenage couple after they made a Dec. 29 visit to smoke marijuana at the residence Baum shared with his girlfriend, 34-year-old Morgan Henderson, and Baum’s father in Mammoth.

Otteson and Powell planned to return to their home in nearby Eureka but never made it.

Henderson told investigators that Baum had forbidden her from having “guy friends.” After Henderson thought the teenagers had left the house, Baum took her outside and she saw Otteson and Powell in the back of Baum’s Jeep, where prosecutors say their hands and feet were bound and their mouths covered with duct tape, according to allegations in affidavit and charging document.

Baum made Henderson get into the Jeep with him and he drove to the Tintic Standard Mine, the documents allege. The tape at the teenagers’ feet was cut so they could walk up to the mine, says Sheriff’s Sgt. Cannon.

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From left: Riley Powell and Brelynne “Breezy” Otteson

Henderson “described that Brelynne was forced to kneel near the open mine pit and witness the beating of her boyfriend, Riley Powell, and his stabbing, before she had her throat cut and was also thrown into the open mine,” Henderson told investigators, according to the court documents.

Baum’s girlfriend “also described [Baum] stabbing Riley Powell through the groin. Reports from the officer who attended the victim’s autopsies with the medical examiner corroborate Morgan’s statements and likely indicate she would have been present when the killings occurred.”

Henderson further told police that “prior to the killings, [Baum] was operating under the belief that Brelynne was pregnant, having offered to Brelynne and Riley his congratulations as they walked from the car to the open mine shaft.”

However, prosecutors do not believe the victim was pregnant, said Deputy Utah County Attorney Chad Grunander at a news conference on Tuesday.

Grunander described the teenagers’ deaths as “heinous, depraved murders” but said his office has not yet decided whether to pursue the death penalty for Baum.

A charge against Henderson for alleged obstruction of justice is pending, Cannon tells PEOPLE.

According to a previously released affidavit in the case, Baum allegedly claimed to Henderson that after making Powell “suffer,” he “felt bad” about killing Otteson and “made it quick and painless” for her.

Baum previously spent 11 years in federal prison on firearms and weapons charges, PEOPLE confirmed. He was released in July 2016 but was still on supervised parole when the teens were killed.