Missing in Utah: The disappearance of Denise Sullivan Pt. 3

Missing In Utah

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Charles Boothroyd was the only survivor of a horrifying shooting sixty-years ago.

Boothroyd was on vacation along with his friend Jeannette Sullivan and her 15-year old daughter Denise.

They were from Connecticut and made their way to the four corners region.

“It was understood on this trip they were supposed to get married,” said Linda Lazaroff, Boothroyd’s granddaughter.

Boothroyd was an avid photographer and recorded the vacation on his 8 mm camera. Abel Aragon met them at Dead Horse Point and told them about the area.

They didn’t know he was a former war hero and currently an unemployed coal miner.

He left them and they later saw his car pulled off the side of the road. It was a setup. After offering assistance, Aragon’s car started again. But when he came out of the car, he had a rifle.

“He robbed them,” said Jeannie Nabozny, Sullivan’s daughter. “My mother was mad, threw the money down, rolled it up in a rubber band. It was $200 and she threw it on the ground.”

Sullivan fell to the ground barely conscious. Boothroyd lunged towards Aragon but was shot in the head.

“Charles went down the first time and was kind of delirious and Abel shot him again.

Denise Sullivan who was in the Volkswagen took off. She didn’t know how to drive but Boothroyd had given her lessons. Aragon followed her in his car. It was the last anyone saw of the teenager.

Boothroyd survived. At the hospital, he gave authorities a description of the suspect whose name sounded like “Oregon.” He also gave them two letters “CJ” of a partial license plate. Authorities knew these initials indicated Carbon County.

Then other clues started trickling in. Aragon’s wife from Price called authorities in Moab. She was worried about her husband Abel whom she had not heard from in several days. She said he had been looking for work.

Three days after the shooting, two FBI agents pulled over a vehicle with a license plate bearing the initials “CJ.” It was Aragon who quickly turned the gun on himself.

Authorities had hoped they would find Sullivan in the trunk of his car, but she was not there. They did find the rifle, a shovel, and other evidence.

Despite countless days of searching, Denise Sullivan was never found.

At the hospital where he was recovering, Boothroyd told reporters the reality of the situation.

“She (Denise) couldn’t possibly be alive,” Boothroyd said.

Both Lazaroff and Nabozny said he took the loss hard and blamed himself.

“He loved us very much,” said Nabozny. “But I don’t think he ever got over the feeling that it was his fault, that my mother died and it wasn’t his fault at all.

Back home in Connecticut, Jeannete Sullivan was laid to rest. Boothroyd eventually returned to his own family.

“We never asked him questions,” said Lazaroff. “He never talked about it. I always assumed this left a very sad memory for him because he lost someone who he was going to marry.”

His Volkswagon was also returned to him. The dents and scratches had been repaired.

“I just remembered looking at the Volkswagen knowing that Jeannette and Denise were in that car,” said Lazaroff. “So that was just a sad reminder.”

Another reminder was a scar on Boothroyd’s right cheek. It was from where the bullet struck him.

Boothroyd never remarried. But years later, Lazaroff said he got behind the wheel and hit the highway — this time alone.

“He was always travelling,” the granddaughter said. “He was away a lot of the time. He had a love of the west.” Boothroyd died at 83.

Friday in the final segment of the disappearance of Denise Sullivan, the war hero who broke down.

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