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Man arrested for murder, kidnapping after bodies of two teens found in mine shaft

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EUREKA (News4Utah)- Police have arrested the man they think is responsible for murdering two teens and dumping their bodies in a mine shaft.

Family members have been searching for three months hoping to find missing teenagers Breezy Otteson and Riley Powell.  Wednesday, it seems their search came to an end. A tip led investigators to an abandoned mine in a remote area of Utah County. Two bodies believed to be Breezy and Riley were found about 100 ft. down the mine shaft. 

Jerrod William Baum

Thursday, police arrested 41-year-old Jerrod William Baum in connection with the case on charges of two counts each of aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping, abuse or desecration of a dead human body, and one count of possession of a dangerous weapon and obstruction of justice.

Breezy’s aunt Amanda Hunt says she’s grateful an arrest was made so quickly.

“Everything’s happened so quickly. It’s just so amazing that we’ve been able to know that we’re having another step towards that closure,” she said.

It seems the investigation fell into place when Baum’s girlfriend, Morgan Lewis, was arrested on a warrant out of Provo on Sunday.  She is also known as Morgan Henderson.

Lewis (formerly Henderson) is considered a key witness to the murders of the teens. Police reports say the night before the two teens went missing, they were at her house.

Throughout the investigation detectives interviewed Lewis about her interaction with Riley. At first police records say she told several different stories. However, during her most recent arrest in Sanpete County on March 25th, Lewis admitted Riley and Breezy came to her house the night they were reported missing to smoke marijuana, records state.

Records say she told them her boyfriend, Baum, was upset when he found out.

“He told her that he had previously instructed her not to have guy friends and that it was too bad because he has never killed an innocent before,” the police report said.

Police records say Lewis told police that Baum said he “took care of Riley and [Breezy]”. Eventually, Lewis took police to the abandoned mine near Eureka, the area “she believed Jarrod had left Riley and [Breezy] after he killed them,” arrest records say.

The next day, crews found two bodies about 100 feet down. “The bodies were a male and female matching the description of Riley and [Breezy],” the police report says. 

Upon further interview, police records say Lewis told them more about the murders. Police reports say shortly after Riley and Breezy left her house on the night of Dec. 29th,  Baum brought Lewis outside where “she saw Riley and [Breezy] tied up in the back of Riley’s Jeep,” the report states.

She told police Baum had her get in the Jeep. They then drove to the area of the mine, records say.

“While at the mine Jerrod used a knife to kill both Riley and [Breezy] and then dumped their bodies in the mine,” the probable cause reads.

Lewis then told police they drove back to their home in Mammoth where Baum destroyed more evidence.

At one point, the police report says Baum threatened Lewis with a weapon known as a garrote (used for strangulation). He then had Lewis drive Riley’s Jeep out to Cherry Creek. Investigators reportedly found the Jeep a couple weeks later. 

This is not Baum’s first run in with police. According to Utah Court Records, Baum has several felonies on his record stretching back to 1992 including aggravated assault, burglary, theft, and possession of a dangerous weapon.

This is a developing story. Updates will be posted as they become available.

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