KEARNS, Utah (ABC 4 News) - Salt Lake County Unified Police say three people have been arrested on suspicion of the abuse and murder of a woman in their care.
According to SL County Unified Police Lt. Justin Hoyal, officers responded to a report of an overdose on Friday afternoon at 4978 South 5415 West in Kearns.
When UPD and Unified Fire Authority officials arrived, Hoyal said they pronounced the victim, 22-year-old Christina Harms, deceased at the scene.
Hoyal said after detectives investigated the death, they found ligature marks on the ankles of the victim which were consistent with plastic zip ties.
According to Hoyal, investigators also observed bruising on the victim’s thigh and head along with a pepper seed in the lower area of the victims eye lid.
Hoyal said the victim’s arms and hands were completely covered with bandaging material which would have prohibited her from placing or removing the pepper seed from her eye.
Investigators say the evidence pointed to abuse of Harms, who was vulnerable adult who was unable to care for herself.
Hoyal said investigators believe Harms died from torture, and not from a drug overdose.
Hoyal said Harms' body was taken to the Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy.
According to Hoyal, a search warrant was executed on the residence, where investigators found a small closet was in the living room, that had an alarm on the doorway.
Inside the closet, Hoyal said investigators observed a metal bar which was used for binding the victim in a crucifixion manner, along with several other binding materials found buried under trash in the waste basket in the home.
Hoyal said Cassandra Sheppard was booked in to the Salt Lake County Jail for Domestic Violence Murder and Domestic Violence Obstructing Justice as she was the victim’s legally documented guardian care taker and cohabitant.
Dale and Sherrie Beckering were also booked on the charge of Domestic Violence Abuse of a Vulnerable Adult as they also reside in the residence as care takers and were the primary care takers for Harms from February 2010 to September 2010.
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----Information from: Salt Lake County Unified Police.