Foul play ‘strongly suggested’ in case of missing Juab Co. teens

JUAB COUNTY, Utah — A search and rescue effort for two Eureka teenagers has been suspended in Juab County after investigators uncovered evidence that foul play is "strongly suggested," according to the Juab County Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff Douglas Anderson told Fox 13 the circumstances around where they found the Jeep the teens were last seen driving are "highly suspicious."

18-year old Riley Powell and his girlfriend, 17-year old Breezy Otteson, haven't been seen since December 30th family have said, after the two didn't return home to Eureka from Tooele, where they had been visiting family.

Amanda Hunt, who is Otteson's aunt, said the teens last contacted family before they passed through Spanish Fork.

After Juab, Utah and Tooele Counties launched a search that included citizen volunteers, the pair's Jeep was found near Cherry Creek Reservoir.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee had two flat tires, its windows were down and Riley and Breezy's belongings were still inside. Sheriff Anderson said the Jeep was hidden in the trees.

“The condition of the vehicle and its position, we believe that jeep was placed there intentionally," he said on Tuesday.

They're working to figure out who would have dumped the Jeep in that spot, but he said it's clear that the teens are not lost or in need of search and rescue.

"We have a strong, strong indication that there's foul play here," he said.

Hunt said the family is upset by the news, but they aren't entirely shocked considering the reality of the situation.

"Our hearts are broken. Obviously, after two weeks of searching and no news, somewhere in our hearts we felt like that was probably something that's crossed our minds," Hunt said. "Every possibility has crossed our mind. The unknown - it's a scary thing."

She said they're still offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of the teens.

"We just want to bring them home, no matter what," she said.

For a small, tight-knit community, Powell and Otteson's disappearance has been a huge shock.

Family and friends say Powell was born and raised in Eureka, and known to many people in town.

"Everybody is just sick over it," said Heike Anderson, who lives in Eureka.

Anderson said she and a friend helped in the search on Monday, by combing through abandoned mine shafts and in the area around Cherry Creek Reservoir.

"It’s just so devastating not to have any feeling-- not to know what they're doing, where they are," she said.

Anderson, just like Hunt, said everyone is still hoping for the safe discovery of the teens.

"Give this town-- not only the parents-- but this town, some closure," she pleaded. "I hope that it's going to happen soon."

Sheriff Anderson said they could not release any more information on the investigation in order to maintain the integrity of the investigation.

Even though the search and rescue effort has been called off, he said the investigation remains active and ongoing as they diligently work to find Powell and Otteson.