A mystery no more: how police say they found suspects in deadly Millcreek carjacking in 2020

Local News

MILLCREEK, Utah (ABC4) – Charges have been filed in the 2020 homicide of 57-year-old Linda Nemelka of Murray, who was found shot in her car and later died in a crime police say appears totally random.

In mid-March, Nemelka was found inside a car in Millcreek with gunshot wounds. She was taken to the hospital in critical condition, but she later died of her injuries.

At the time, Unified Police had no leads in the case. Four months later, police offered a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest of a suspect in Nemelka’s death.

Now, almost a year and a half after her death, authorities have announced charges against two people.

Following an extensive investigation, Unified Police say murder charges have been filed against 24-year-old James Dekota Brunson and 23-year-old Anika Thorpe.

“She was just in an area where you wouldn’t even think something like this would happen. They took advantage of the situation and took a life and they need to be held accountable for it,” said Sheriff Rosie Rivera on Wednesday.

The case, she said, involved few witnesses. No video. And not enough tips from the public.

“It was one of those cases where you thought, how are we ever going to solve this?” said Rivera.

But, according to charging documents, authorities got a break when an informant shared information nearly a year later. In February, the informant revealed that he had let Brunson and Thorpe stay in his home around the time of the murder.

On the night of the murder, Brunson told the informant he would be running late — but that he should look up the Millcreek shooting on the news.

Authorities on Wednesday detailed extensive criminal histories for both Brunson and Thorpe, who were both on parole at the time of the murder.

The day after the murder, Brunson and Thorpe were taken into custody after being spotted in a stolen vehicle. But it wasn’t until the informant shared information nearly a year later that the two were linked with the murder, according to court documents.

Last March, Brunson and Thorpe were taken into custody on numerous charges including possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person, theft of a firearm, use or possession of drug paraphernalia.

Officers say they responded to a theft in Orem. Upon arrival, Thorpe and Brunson were found at the home when a bag of firearms and ammunition were stolen.

Two 20 gag shotguns, three handguns, two .22 rifles, and an AR-15 assault rifle were stolen. Both Thorpe and Brunson allegedly fled to a vehicle later identified as stolen out of American Fork.

Police say they left the scene and made their way to Salt Lake City. After a search warrant was obtained, officers were able to locate the suspects in West Jordan.

Since then, family members say, they had been agonized over what happened to Linda. The charges filed Wednesday bring some relief.

“The confusion and the anger is never going to go away,” said daughter Jessica Nemelka.

“Having answers is part of its own closure, but it doesn’t change what happened. It doesn’t bring her back, but it does help,” added Nemelka.

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