SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – For years, Marilyn Stevenson could not get anyone’s attention regarding her missing son.

In November 2017 Justin Hooiman disappeared after leaving a half-way house in Salt Lake City.

“Nobody really cares when somebody goes missing,” said Hooiman’s mother Marilyn Stevenson. “They think it’s a drug case, that he’s a troubled kid. They think he’s just somewhere and that he’s just another junkie. (But it’s) not the case at all.”

When he turned 22-years-old Hooiman got hooked on OxyContin after he was treated for an injury.
It was the beginning of a downward spiral ending with his sudden disappearance.

On November 20, 2017 Stevenson got a call from her son, they planned on having lunch together.

Hooiman lived at the Fortitutde Treatment Center in Salt Lake City. It’s a half-way house for parolees.

But each day, he left for his job as part of his probation.

A year earlier, Hooiman went to prison for crimes related to drug and theft. He explained his habit at a May 2017 parole hearing.

“I started using drugs,” Hooiman told the hearing officer. “I had a couple of surgeries. They had me on OxyContin and stuff like that. My father passed away and I started doing heroin and stopped working.”

He was paroled a month later.

But on the day he disappeared Stevenson and Hooiman planned to meet near a construction site at the Intermountain Medical Center in Murray.

They planned on having lunch but Stevenson called him back for a specific location.

“I called him back five minutes after I had hung up the phone,” she recalled. “The phone was off, and it was never turned back on.”

It was the last time she talked to her son. She said no one saw him at the construction site that morning.

Later that night she said the department of corrections listed him as a fugitive for failing to return.

She said the Salt Lake City police wouldn’t help because he was a wanted man and authorities were already searching for him.

But Stevenson knew he was not a runaway. She said her son was a “momma’s boy” who always stayed in touch.

“Thanksgiving was a few days later and that’s not something he would have missed,” Stevenson said.

The family searched on their own, looking on every street, and talking with people in homeless shelters in hopes of learning where he may be.

“We knew something horrible had happened and we found it very hard to get anyone to believe us or help us,” she said.

Two years later, Stevenson claimed police still wouldn’t investigate Hooiman’s disappearance. So, they contacted a private investigator from California who was surprised by police inactivity.

“It’s fairly surprising for the amount of time that he had been gone and it needed to be pushed,” said Amy Doerner, the private investigator. “At this point, this is a missing person. He clearly keeps in touch with his mother.”

In late 2019, she talked with authorities and convinced police to list it as a missing persons case. Doerner had opened the door but Stevenson said she could no longer afford her services.

Meanwhile, police appeared to focus their investigation on Hooiman’s relationships from prison and at the treatment center.

In March 2021, the search warrant was unsealed. Police were now calling it a “criminal homicide” investigation.

They also learn from a U. S. Marshal that a confidential informant claimed “Justin had been murdered.”

The search warrant requested from his cellphone carrier permission to review all “pings, incoming/outgoing telephone calls along with corresponding cellular site locations, cellular site information, GPS coordinates, and subscriber information.

This information will assist investigators in determining Justin Hooiman’s last known location at the time of his disappearance and who he was in communication with during this time frame,” police said in the search warrant.

It appeared police received the information it requested from Hooiman’s cellphone carrier.

This latest development goes in line with what Stevenson recalled during a conversation with a federal marshal.

“In 2018, I was speaking with a federal marshal and she said had he testified yet?” Stevenson said. “And I said ‘testified? For what?'”

Salt Lake police said their case remains active and are continuing to investigate. A spokesman said the detective on the case recently filed a report two weeks ago. But the spokesman would not divulge details of that report. Anyone with information about Hooiman can contact police and remain anonymous.

The Utah Cold Case Coalition is offering a $5,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest and or conviction.