The Justice Files: Victim advocate: Slayer statute loophole allows killer’s family to profit

News

RICHFIELD, Utah (ABC4 News) – The family of Melanie Callison wants the law changed.

Callison was brutally murdered in 2014 by her husband Ed Callison.  Some called it one of the most sadistic crime in Utah’s history.  
At his sentencing, a judge called Callison a “very, very evil man.”

Back in 2014, at Devil’s Willow Patch campsite Richfield police were led to the remains of her body by Callison.  He described where he dismembered her body and then burned the remains beyond recognition.

“I was hysterical, absolutely hysterical,” said Melanie’s mother Ellen Row.  “He did kill her, dismembered her and burned her and I was really, still to this day, can’t get around that.”

The judge sent Callison to prison for life with a recommendation he never be released.  But Callison wasn’t finished hurting her family.

in 2015, Melanie’s family was awarded two million dollars in a wrongful death lawsuit.

“I knew that Melanie would have wanted her nieces to have had a good education,” said Row.  “And that was part of our thoughts.”

But to date, Callison has yet to pay one penny.  While in jail, Callison signed over his property to his first wife, sheltering all his assets.

“Melanie’s family went through all the proper steps,” said Brandon Merrill with the Never Again Foundation based in Utah county.

Merrill is an attorney for the advocacy group which defends victims of domestic violence.

He claimed Utah’s so-called Slayer statute, which prevents killers from profiting from a crime, doesn’t stop the killer from transferring assets.

“What we really want is to make sure the family is able to receive justice,” said Merrill.  “And that justice can’t be received if that killer is able to transfer away property and assets to people he would rather see get money.  Technically, he’s not profiting but his friends and family can.”

He said his organization lobbied the legislature in Arizona to change their slayer statute which resembled Utah’s. 

“We went to the legislature and we got an addition to the slayer statute, called the constructive trust,” Merrill said.  “And that constructive trust puts a hold, or a freeze of all assets of a killer to make sure that that is preserved so it can payout any wrongful death judgments.

He said once the killer pulls the trigger, the assets are frozen.

It may be to late for Melanie Callison’s family.  But they want lawmakers to pay attention to what happened in Richfield.

“We still in the back of our minds, still wondered is there something, somewhere, somehow where we could help someone else,” said Row.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Don't Miss