Utah Teen, 15, Was Killed by Man Who Feared She'd Tell Police He Sexually Abused Her
Baleigh Bagshaw, 15, was attacked with a knife while on the phone with her mother
A Utah man pleaded guilty Wednesday to killing a teenage girl after she threatened to disclose his sexual abuse of her, according to multiple reports.
Baleigh was on the phone with her mother when French, who had waited alone in her home until she returned from school, attacked her, stabbing her and slashing her throat, authorities have said.
The aggravated murder charge is a first-degree felony that carries a life sentence, The Salt Lake Tribune reports. As part of French's plea deal, prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty and dismissed charges against him of aggravated burglary, sexual exploitation of a minor and witness tampering.
In a statement of facts supporting the guilty plea, defense attorney Michael Misner said French was living in Baleigh’s home and had an illegal sexual relationship with the girl beginning when he was 23 and she was 14, the Deseret News reports. Baleigh ended the abuse more than a year later by breaking up with French, and her family kicked him out of the home. But French “still refused to accept the breakup,” according to the statement of facts.
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Baleigh told French she planned to report him to police, according to the statement of facts. At the time, French was in Ohio, but he drove back to Utah to kill her before she contacted authorities, the statement of facts says.
On the day she was murdered, French called Baleigh 13 times, KUTV reports. The outlet reports French tried to blackmail the teen's mom with explicit photos of Baleigh.
Baleigh had called her mother, something she did every day after school, when she was attacked, Sgt. Brandon Shearer of the Salt Lake Police Department told reporters at a press briefing in 2018.
While on the phone with Baleigh, the teen’s mother heard her being “brutally attacked," said Shearer. Eventually, the call was lost, police said.
The mother called a neighbor who called 911. Police arrived at the Bagshaw residence to find Baleigh’s dead body.
French was arrested in Colorado after a two-day manhunt, the Deseret News reports.