WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (ABC4) – What happened inside the Cunningham home was shocking.

In November, a woman called 911 and said she had been held hostage and was tortured. But what happened to Maren Carlson was also tragic.

“(Carlson) was a little spitfire,” said her great-granddaughter Shaunee Cunningham. “She did not act her age. She was full of life.”

Cunningham said she lived in the basement of the West Valley home owned by her father, Garman Cunningham.

“She was very independent, but she was like ‘I don’t want to live alone,'” Shaunee Cunningham said.

She moved into the house and she’s been living there since then.

“My father (Garman) loved her,” Cunningham said.

But on November 12, police arrived at the home after the woman summoned for help.

The woman had escaped and called 911 using a neighbors home. A photographer from Gephardt Daily captured the moment officers arrived.

The woman’s husband, Garman Cunningham was still in the home and refused to come out. He was finally arrested after a standoff, and police learned of the shocking details of what happened soon after.

According to charging documents, Garman Cunningham was charged with numerous felonies including Murder and Aggravated Kidnapping. Cunningham is Carlson’s grandson.

The woman witnessed Cunningham “smother, beat (Carlson) with his fists, (and) stab her in the neck.”
She told police he wrapped her body in plastic and took her to the mountains to dispose of her body.

Ninety-nine-year-old Carlson hasn’t yet been found. It prompted police to issue a missing persons alert in mid-August.

“We’re asking for folks who go up into the mountains to look around and be aware of their surroundings and let us know if they find any evidence that could be related to this case,” said Roxanne Vainuku, the spokesperson for the West Valley Police Department.

Meanwhile, Garman Cunningham who was still in jail, died in March after he was transported to the hospital.
His daughter has lost a lot in the past few months.

“At the very beginning it was overwhelming,” said Shaunee Cunningham. “I’m still having a hard time. I go to therapy and stuff like that.”

Cunningham said her father’s actions blindsided her. She received a call from him on November 3 in which he explained that he sent Carlson to Texas for a short period.

“I was just praying for the best that it was going to be for a month,” she said.

But by November 3, her father had already allegedly killed Carlson and was torturing his wife, threatening to kill her if she went to police.

News accounts enlightened her.

“To find out that he was capable of doing that, that was not okay” she said. “I am still not okay.”

Now, on the forefront of Cunningham’s mind is to find her great-grandmother’s remains.

“It would bring closure,” Cunningham said. “She’s the last of my family that I need to bury. I want her home.”

Authorities have been searching for Carlson in the Kamas area along the Mirror Lake highway. If anyone has information, you’re urged to contact the West Valley Police Department at (801) 840-4000.