Cold cases: Utah cases that remain unsolved years later

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Utah (ABC4 News) — August is Cold Case Month and in an effort to bring awareness to Utah’s cold cases, the Utah Cold Case Coalition is offering a $10,000 reward for the closure of any unsolved Utah murder or disappearance. 

According to the Utah Department of Public Safety, there are more than 400 cold cases throughout Utah which include homicides, missing persons, and unidentified deceased persons. 

Check out some of Utah’s cold cases throughout the years below. The information is from the Utah Department of Public Safety 

1970s

Valaine Briggs

Valaine Briggs, 18, was last seen leaving her class at LDS Business College on May 5, 1977. She had plans to meet her roommate to go shopping later that day but never arrived to meet her friend. Two days later her body, along with some of her school books, was discovered in Lambs Canyon with her killer still remaining unknown. 

Kathy Harmon

Kathy Harmon was just 22 years old when she was last seen in 1976 at Better Days Bar in Salt Lake City. Kathy left the bar around midnight alone. She got home that night because her coat that she took to the bar was found back at her apartment. However, she was reported missing when she didn’t show up to work the next day and couldn’t be found by phone or at her apartment. Four days later, her body was found by a hiker between Emigration and Parleys Canyon. She had been assaulted and died of strangulation. 

Nancy Wilcox

Nancy Wilcox was last seen in Oct. 1974. She is believed to be the first Utah victim of serial killer Ted Bundy. Bundy claimed to have buried her body near Capitol Reef National Park. However, Nancy’s body has never been found. 

Corazon Frandsen

Corazon Frandsen, 26, was last seen on Feb. 4, 1978, when she went out to dinner with her in-laws. After dinner, she picked up a few groceries and headed home to her apartment on Cobble Creek Road. Police said it appeared that she was attacked as she got out of her car in her apartment parking lot. Frandsen was found the next morning in the bushes in a church parking lot nearby. She had been severely beaten and was unconscious at the time she was found. Frandsen died a short time later at the hospital as a result of blunt force trauma injuries and exposure to the elements. 

1980s

Bertha Larsen Hughes

Bertha Larsen Hughes, 81, was last seen on March 17, 1982. On the morning of her death, neighbors reported hearing yelling and commotion coming from her home. A visiting nurse found Bertha’s body. She had been assaulted and died from blunt force trauma wounds, reports stated. Her home showed signs of forced entry. Her murder still puzzles a detective in the cold case unit. 

Debra Lee Frost

Debra Lee Frost was last seen on July 9, 1984. She was seen walking or hitchhiking but never arrived at her destination. Debra has a burn scar on her left calf and a scar on her nose.

Terry L. Bakker

Terry L. Bakker, 25, was last seen on April 14, 1986. Terry woke to noises at his front door, he went to the door and partially opened it when the suspect forced his way in. Terry then ran outside of the home. According to witnesses, when he returned he’d been shot and died from his injuries. His killer’s identity has never been discovered. 

Jean Muir

Jean Muir was planning on going to Utah County with her sister on a December day in 1985. Muir spoke with her sister about the trip about 12:30 p.m. that day, but when her sister came to pick her up around 1 p.m., she was found inside her home murdered. Jean’s car was missing from the driveway but was located a few days later several miles away from her home parked behind a business. 

Jason Jack Simmons

1990s

Jason Jack Simmons, known as “Red,” 24, was reported missing on April 15, 1994. His family says they believe there was foul play involved in his disappearance. His brother continues to search for his body to this day. 

Bobbi Campbell

Bobbi Campbell is believed to have last been seen in late 1994 leaving her home. She left her child at home and hasn’t been seen or heard from since. Since her disappearance, the Utah Cold Case Coalition and a family investigator tracked witnesses who claimed Campbell died of a drug overdose and she was wrapped in a rug or carpet and tossed into the Jordan River. Divers have recovered items they believe could be linked to Campbell. 

Rosie Tapia

Rosie Tapia, 6, was last seen on August 13, 1995. Rosie was kidnapped from her home at an apartment complex in Salt Lake City. The next day, her body was found in a canal that borders the apartment complex. Twenty-five years later, Rosie’s parents haven’t given up on their search for answers. ABC4 News released a sketch of her possible killer but they have never been identified.

Michelle L. Halling

Michelle L. Halling, 28, was the mother of a young son. They lived in the Cottonwood Heights area at the time of her death. Her son was staying with his grandparents the night of his mother’s murder in 1990. Around 2 one morning, Michelle’s home became engulfed in flames. Neighbors heard her screaming for help but were unable to get to her due to the intensity of the fire. Arson was determined to be the cause of the fire. 

2000s

Nikole Bakoles

Nikole Bakoles was last seen in Oct. 2000 at the age of 20. This was originally an unidentified human remains case. Several human remains were found along I-80 near Saltair by some duck hunters in 2000.

In Aug. 2012, the remains were identified as Bakoles’. At the time of her disappearance, Nikole was a mother to a young daughter. She was from Washington State but her family had little contact with her when she moved from Washington to Utah with her boyfriend in 1998. The contact stopped altogether in 2000. The family reported her missing in 2003. Her boyfriend stated that in 2000 that he and Bakoles had an argument and that he left her. He claims that is the last time he ever saw her. 

Susan Cox Powell

Susan Cox Powell, one of the more nationally publicized cases in Utah history, was last seen on Dec. 7, 2009. It was suspected that her husband, Josh Powell, had information on her disappearance. In 2012, Josh took his secrets to the grave as he committed suicide after setting his Washington State home on fire. Right before Josh’s death, police said he also brutally murdered the couple’s two young sons. 

Susan’s body has never been found. According to KOMO News, her parents, Chuck and Judy Cox were recently awarded $98 million by Washington State courts after a ruling declared negligence in the deaths of Susan’s sons by the state’s Department of Social and Health Services. 

Sonia Mejia

Sonia Mejia was last seen on the day of her murder in Feb. 2006. The 29-year-old lived in Taylorsville at the time with her common-law husband and 8-year-old son. Mejia was six-months pregnant.

She was home alone one morning when a neighbor witnessed Sonia being assaulted at her front door with the suspect then entering the apartment and shutting the door. 

Cody Lynn Doge

Sonia’s body was found by her husband in the apartment later that evening. She had been sexually assaulted and died by strangulation. The suspect has never been found but has been linked to another unsolved homicide in the same location. 

Cody Lynn Dodge, 26, was murdered on Sept. 22, 2008. He found dead in his home, shot by an unknown assailant.  There are little details surrounding his death and his killer has never been identified. 

2010s

Sherry Black

Sherry Black was found murdered in her bookstore in South Salt Lake in Nov. 2010. Black’s husband was the one to discover her body. There is no evidence of forced entry and nothing appeared to be missing from her bookstore. The suspect of the murder reportedly left a brown imitation Armani brand belt at the scene with a sticker on the buckle with the numbers ‘323’. Black’s loved ones are offering a $250,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a suspect. 

Kevin Nelson
Cyle John Vankomen

Cyle John Vankomen and Kevin Nelson were both murdered in December 2016 inside a home in South Ogden. To date, their killers have yet to be arrested. The pair was shot to death by intruders who appeared to have stalked the home. Surveillance video captured three suspects who appeared to have been stalking the home prior to the murders but they were never identified. 

Elizabeth Elena Laguna Salgado_2367337343059840218
Elizabeth Salgado

Elizabeth Salgado disappeared in Provo in 2015. She was only in the United States for three weeks before she vanished in broad daylight after leaving her English school in Provo one afternoon. In the years prior to her death, she had served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Three years after her disappearance, Salgado’s body was found in Hobble Creek Canyon. Her killer has never been found. Her family has hired a personal investigator to find answers to Salgado’s death. The investigator says he believes it was someone that she already knew that killed her. 

For the full list of Utah cold cases check out the Utah Department of Public Safety.

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