Documents released after murder arrest flesh out timeline of search for missing Eureka couple

Breezy Otteson and Riley Powell

EUREKA, Utah — A Utah man is facing murder charges nearly three months after a young couple from Eureka vanished, and court documents released this week offer new details about the timeline of the case.

Riley Powell and Brelynne “Breezy” Otteson were reported missing January 2, and now 41-year-old Jerrod William Baum faces charges in their deaths following information police received from his girlfriend, Morgan Lewis Henderson.

See below for the timeline of events as described in various court documents and Fox 13’s previous coverage of the case:

December 29, 2017—11 p.m.: Riley Powell and Morgan Lewis Henderson exchange Facebook messages and arrange to meet at the home Henderson shares with her boyfriend, Jerrod Baum, and his father in Mammoth, a small community south of Eureka. The message exchange ended around 11 p.m.

December 29, 2017—shortly before midnight: Henderson says the couple arrived at the home and that she and the couple hang out for about 40 minutes and smoke some weed before the couple leaves.

December 30, 2017—early morning hours: Henderson says Baum leads her outside their home, where Riley and Breezy are tied up in the back of Riley’s Jeep. She says Baum tells them they are going for a ride and a talk, but says Baum drives to the Lily Creek mine area in Eureka and kills the teenage couple with a knife. Henderson says Baum then dumped the bodies in the abandoned Tintic No. 2 Standard mine. She says he had warned her before about having male friends, and that he threatened her to help him hide evidence.

December 31, 2017: Henderson observes Baum burning some things in a barrel and says she noticed the shower at their home smells strongly of bleach. She discloses this information to police in an interview prior to the later interview in which she gives her account of the murder.

January 2, 2018: Family members report the couple missing, saying they last heard from the couple on December 30 and believed they were somewhere outside of Spanish Fork at the time. Shortly afterward, volunteers and local law enforcement begin searching for clues.

January 7: Family members offer a $2,000 reward for information that leads to the missing couple’s Jeep. 

 

January 9: Detectives interview Jerrod Baum, stating they knew he and Powell knew each other. Baum and Henderson tell police they heard a rumor that Riley got into a fight with another man on New Year’s Eve and that they have not heard from the missing teens.

January 11: Police locate Riley Powell’s blue Jeep Cherokee, which was hidden under some brush near Cherry Creek Reservoir in Juab County. The Jeep had two flat tires, and there was a tow strap in a camouflage pattern stuck on the vehicle.

January 15: Four days after the Jeep was located, police questioned Riley’s mother, Mistie Carlson, and two others while her boyfriend, Lee Shepherd, refused to cooperate with police and come in for an interview.

January 16: Police searched the property Carlson and Shepherd live on near Lofgreen in Tooele County. Juab County Sheriff’s Office states at this point that foul play is “strongly suggested” in the case.

January 25: Detectives interview Henderson at her home in Mammoth, and they note Baum was nearby as police spoke with her. Henderson tells police initially she heard a rumor the couple were missing as a result of a drug deal gone bad. Detectives press Henderson, and they said she becomes nervous and ultimately admits the couple came over that night, smoked some weed and left after about 40 minutes. She says she doesn’t know what happened to them after that.

January 30: Jerrod Baum is arrested at his residence in Mammoth for probation violations and booked on a 72-hour hold.

January 31: Police learn that Henderson allegedly bought a .45-caliber handgun and ammunition and took them to Baum’s house despite the fact neither are allowed to possess firearms due to their criminal histories.

February 1: Police recover the handgun at Baum’s residence, and Baum admits in an interview with police that he handled the firearm at his home in Mammoth.

February 2: Baum is booked into the Juab County Jail for possession of a firearm by a restricted person.

February 5: Investigators unseal search warrants in the missing couple’s case, revealing to the public for the first time there is evidence of a homicide.

February 13: The Juab County Attorney’s Office files a formal charge of possession of a firearm by a restricted person against Baum.

February 17: Family members and volunteers continue search efforts and begin sending teams to rappel into abandoned mine shafts to search for clues. Video captured that day shows nothing but trash and debris in the underground caverns that were searched. They are unable to search the Tintic No. 2 because it’s on private property.

February 17-onward: Community volunteers and family members continue to search, sending out organized search parties almost every weekend.

March 25: Henderson is booked into jail in Sanpete County after a traffic stop. Documents state she was stopped for speeding and booked for one felony and several misdemeanor charges.  While in previous interviews Henderson said she didn’t know what happened to the couple after they left her home, she tells police on March 25 that Baum had told her he had killed the couple and she may know where the bodies are hidden.

March 26: Henderson accompanies detectives to the Mammoth area, where Henderson shows police a barrel believed to contain evidence. Police secure a warrant and find evidence that includes destroyed cell phones and fragments of rope, duct tape and knife sheaths. Henderson then takes them to the area near the mine and says the bodies may be nearby.

March 27: Investigators coordinate with Utah County Sheriff’s Office, as the Tintic Standard No. 2 mine is in Utah County. They search the area and obtain consent from the property owner to search the mine using a camera, which is when they locate the bodies. When detectives tell Henderson they’ve found the bodies, the woman gives her most complete account of the couple’s alleged murder at the hands of Baum.

March 28: Law enforcement sends a heavy rescue team into the mine and recovers two bodies. It is during this search the public becomes aware of the discovery. Detectives say the bodies appear to have knife wounds consistent with Henderson’s account of the murder. Police and family members are confident the bodies are those of Riley and Breezy, though a Medical Examiner will make the formal identification.

Baum is taken from the Juab County Jail and booked into the Utah County Jail facing two counts of aggravated murder, two counts of aggravated kidnapping and two counts of desecration of a human body, among other charges.

March 30: A Medical Examiner positively identifies the bodies recovered from the mine as Otteson and Powell.

The Utah County Sheriff’s Office is taking over the ongoing criminal investigation, and they said on March 29 they anticipate more charges in the case against Baum and possibly against other people involved as well. Fox 13 News will update this timeline as additional information comes to light.

March 31: Police arrest Morgan Henderson on a charge of obstruction of justice in relation to the deaths of Otteson and Powell.