in missing teen case
Sanpete detective hits evidence jackpot
By Robert Stevens
Feb. 8, 2018
LOFGREEN, UTAH—New evidence uncovered by Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office detectives helping to search for two missing Tooele teens points to homicide.
A search warrant was executed on Jan. 16 at the home of the mother of missing teen Riley Powell by Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office Detective Tyler Johnson, who was working with the Sanpete/Juab Major Crimes Task Force in the hunt for Powell and his girlfriend, Brelynne “Breezy” Otteson.
The search warrant, which was released on Monday, gives new direction in the investigation into the missing teens.
The two are now suspected to be missing due to foul play, according to statements by the Juab County Sheriff’s Office, after they found the pair’s missing Jeep in a suspicious location and circumstance.
Investigators believe the evidence found was consistent with the crimes of homicide, desecration of a body and obstruction of justice.
According to the warrant affidavit, numerous pieces of evidence pointed toward homicide, including items with blood or DNA on them, notes, cell phones containing information and weapons, such as firearms and knives.
Also found were containers suspected of holding or transporting a dead human body, along with clothing and items believed to belong to the missing teens.
According to the affidavit, cadaver-sensing police K9 units were used in the search, and the dogs indicated the scent of a body on items found during the search.
Dirt, mud samples, fingerprints, hairs fibers and other trace evidence were also gathered at the scene of the search.
The search location was an area known locally as “open fields,” where Riley Powell’s mother Mistie Carlson, Linda Powell, “Clubby” William Larson and Lee Shepherd live.
The center of the search area was, according to the warrant affidavit, a single wide modular home.
The two missing teens were reported to be driving a dark blue 1999 Jeep Cherokee Sport. On Jan. 11, the jeep was located in the Cherry Creek area of Juab County. It had two flat tires on the passenger side and a camouflage tie-down strap stuck in the driver’s side rear leaf spring.
The warrant states that upon further inspection of the recovered Jeep’s rear passenger tire, investigators found a puncture in a tire sidewall that appeared to be straight in and made with a small flat-shaped object. The front passenger tire had two puncture marks identical to the rear tire, but on neither tire was found a tear in the side wall that would indicate that the tires where moving when punctured.
It was reported to investigators, the warrant reveals, that a witness had seen a truck described as a blue two-wheel drive Chevy with a Chevy emblem decal on the left side of the tailgate that frequents the Open Fields property that was searched.
According to the warrant affidavit, the witness said she saw the truck pulling a Jeep described as “the one Riley is always driving” on Jan. 2 southbound from the Lofgreen, Tooele County area.
Investigators learned that the description of the truck matched that of a truck driven by Lee Shepherd. Lee is the boyfriend of Mistie Carlson, who is Riley’s mother.
The reporting party is a close neighbor to Carlson and Shepherd, who live on the searched Lofgreen property with Linda Powell (Riley’s grandmother), and William “Clubby” Larson (Linda’s boyfriend).
On Jan. 5, Tooele County and Sanpete/Juab Major Crimes Task Force detectives went to the Open Fields residence.
Detective Johnson said in the warrant affidavit, “I observed a tie-down strap that was identical in camouflage pattern to the one stuck in the jeep leaf spring in the bed of the truck matching the description of the truck that was described by the witness as pulling Riley’s Jeep.”
All of the property occupants, except Shepherd, went willingly to the sheriff’s office.
Johnson said he observed Shepherd entering an enclosed camp trailer to the north of the modular home.
During the interviews, “Clubby” Larson was asked if Shepherd and Mistie Carlson were at his house on New Year’s Eve. He stated they were not—that they had previous plans, and he was not sure where they were.
In Mistie Carlson’s interview, she claimed she was at Linda Powell’s and “Clubby” Larson’s all night on New Year’s Eve.
Prior to the interviews, investigators spoke to a Gus Atherley, who was at the party according to himself and “Clubby” Larson. Mistie Carlson was asked who was at the party and failed to mention Gus.
According to the warrant affidavit, based on the above facts, it is suspected that the blue Chevy truck described above was used to transport, conceal, hide and plant the victims’ vehicle in Cherry Creek, where it was discovered, to give the illusion that the victims had been stranded.