A look back at Utah’s biggest news events of 2019

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Utah (ABC4 News) – It’s hard to believe that 2019 is coming to a close. Let’s take a look back at the biggest events in Utah news in 2019. 

Here are five of Utah’s hardest hitting stories of the year. 

Officer Joseph Shinners
  1. Officer Joseph William Shinners was shot and later died while attempting to arrest a wanted fugitive in Orem, Utah on January 5th, 2019. 

Twenty-nine year old Shinners was a Master Police Officer for the Provo Police Department and had served for three years. 

He is survived by his wife and young son. 

2. Five-year-old Elizabeth “Lizzy” Shelley was taken from her home and murdered by her uncle, Alex Whipple, on May 25th, 2019 in Logan, Utah. 

alex whipple_1559153271441.jpg.jpg
Alex Whipple

According to Logan City police, Shelley’s mother said she invited Whipple, her brother, to her house the evening before. When the family awoke the next morning, Whipple and Lizzy were gone. 

After a five day search, detectives confirmed they had found Lizzy’s body. 

Whipple plead guilty and was charged for the kidnapping, rape, and murder of Shelley and sentenced to life in prison. 

3. Mackenzie Lueck, a 23-year-old University of Utah student, was reported missing on June 20th after taking a Lyft ride from the Salt Lake airport to Hatch Park, where she was dropped off at 3 a.m.

Ayoola Ajayi

Officers gradually uncovered additional details and evidence about Lueck’s disappearance, which ultimately resulted in the arrest of Ayoola Ajayi. Officials found Lueck’s body in Logan Canyon during the first week of July. 

4. The Road Home, a high-capacity homeless shelter, shut its doors on November 20, 2019. The closing of the shelter made it difficult for Salt Lake’s homeless population to find warm places to sleep during the winter months. 


5. Governor Gary Herbert signed the controversial tax reform bill passed during December’s special session, insisting it was necessary to address the evolving dynamics of the economy to meet future needs.

He also addressed the more controversial points of the bill, like the big cut to the income tax which was earmarked for education funding.

Though Herbert insisted the bill would help financially struggling Utahns by implementing new tax credits and earned income tax credits, not everyone believed this to be true. 

Concerned about the increase to food tax, Former State Representative Fred Cox lead efforts to reverse the bill. 

These significant events will have a lasting impact on Utah’s future. Though many of the listed events were tragic, Utahns united as communities to bouy each other up.

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