Salt Lake County investigators announce arrest in 2014 cold case

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Salt Lake County investigators announced an arrest and charges in connection with the disappearance of three men in 2014.

Danny Gallegos, Braden Emerson, and Levi Collins were reported missing by family members in November 2014.  

Shortly after their disappearance, Salt Lake City detectives found bloodstains and a possible bullet hole in their abandoned SUV.  

According to a probable cause statement, samples of the bloodstains were collected, analyzed and later determined to be from Levin Collins and Braden Emerson.

Police responded to Gallegos’ home to perform a welfare check. Detectives were not able to contact anyone inside the home, but learned from the landlord the apartment was being rented by a man named “J.C.”

Investigators learned from family members of Danny Gallegos that he was planning to meet with J.C. to give him to $200,000 in cash. J.C. was allegedly enlisted by Gallegos to help purchase a home in J.C.’s name just as he had done for Gallegos’ apartment, Lamborghini, and other high-ticket items.

A real estate agent who brokered the deal confirmed he met with Gallegos and J.C. on November 1, 2014, to complete some paperwork for the home sale, but all contact with the pair stopped later that day.

Investigators said they spoke with an acquaintance of J.C., “L.C.” Documents state J.C. asked L.C if he could borrow his pickup truck. When he returned it two days later, J.C. recommended L.C. “clean the bed of the truck with bleach.”  He told L.C. that he “helped cover up a murder.” A swab of a stain in the truck bed yielded DNA from one of the victims. 

Police learned that a few days following the disappearance of Gallegos, Collins and Emerson, J.C. and Richard Christopher bought a car, motor home, and trailer with cash. All items were valued at more than $59,000. After searching the motor home, detectives found several items of “unique jewelry” belonging to Gallegos.

In pursuant to a “use immunity” agreement, J.C. told police what happened to the Gallegos, Collins, and Emerson. According to J.C., Richard Christopher shot and killed the three men. Then he agreed to help Christopher by “formulating a plan to dispose of the men’s bodies and taking part in the cover-up.”

Document state J.C. admitted to borrowing the truck from his friend L.C. to visit various stores to buy items needed for him to Christopher to dispose of the bodies and destroy evidence.

J.C. told investigators he and Christopher broke into a Utah County crematory and cremated the bodies in a retort normally used for large animals.  They later burned remaining evidence at a Davis County campground.

Investigators said location tracking analysis of phones belonging to the victims and the suspects confirm the movements of J.C. and Christopher after the crime and during the period when they were destroying evidence.

Richard Christopher faces charges of murder, aggravated robbery, obstructing justice, abuse or desecration of a human body, and possession/use of a firearm by a restricted person.

WATCH: The Salt Lake County District’s Attorney Office held a news conference with details of the arrest. 

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