RICHFIELD, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – The judge called him “evil, pure evil.”
That was in 2014 when Ed Callison was sent to prison for the brutal murder of his wife Melanie Layton Callison. It’s a case that took less than two and a half months to solve.
It began as a missing persons case in late September. And once police began investigating they realized this was “their Susan Powell” case.
“When he’s lying about what was going on and we kept catching him in lies, that’s what me and Alan was talking about,” said Trent Lloyd, Richfield’s police chief. “It’s just like that case and we hoped it didn’t take the same route.”
Susan Powell’s body was never found. Her husband was suspected of killing her but committed suicide after murdering their children.
In 2014, Lloyd was assigned to work the case along with Lt. Alan DeMille. Callison never notified police that his wife was missing but her family did. When questioned, Lloyd said he claimed she ran off on him. According to Lloyd that wasn’t uncommon.
“We held back,” he said. “She was a drug addict that we dealt with our whole careers here. It wasn’t out of her character for her to disappear like that.”
The Callisons were recent newlyweds, much to the surprise of her family.
“She seemed happy with him and she already had a rough life so we tried to support her as well as we could,” said her mother Ellen Rowe.
They lived at his home in Richfield and enjoyed the outdoors, including camping.
But in late September, Melanie went missing and her mother called her other daughter.
“I said Ed has called me and said that Melanie has run away,” Rowe recalled. “And she (daughter) says I didn’t believe that, and I told her I didn’t either.”
Lt. Demille said the family came to the police department and filed the missing persons case.
“It started with Melanie’s sister coming in and reporting her as a missing person,” he said. “She hadn’t been since for a week prior to that. Her husband had said she had gone to San Francisco.”
But red flags started popping up.
“The real suspicion at least for me was that you started to see that Ed was lying,” said Lloyd. “It was suspicious that he had closed down her Facebook account and then we started snooping around he reopens it.”
Police soon learned from Melanie’s family of a campsite they frequented east of Richfield. Lloyd and former police chief John Evans found a campsite. It turned out to be the campsite.
“We came into the campsite,” Lloyd said. “I still to this day think that it was more than luck that we found it. I think that we were just led there.”
The area was covered in snow with fresh tire tracks which they photographed.
“So, went over to Ed’s house and took pictures of his truck tires and it was a match,” said Lloyd.
He said Evans went back there late at night. Callison didn’t know the trail police were following.
“He (Evans) had gone up just to look at the campsite and saw that there was somebody there with a big fire going and it was Ed that was there,” said Lloyd.
Callison was left alone but the next day Lloyd and Evans returned to the campsite, known as Devil’s Willow Patch.
Lloyd found bone fragments. He thought it might be from an animal. But he sent the pieces to an anthropologist at the University of Utah.
“It wasn’t five minutes later that she was on the phone saying that’s human, that’s human vertebrae and skull pieces,” said Lloyd. It was then that we knew that we had found it.”
It was the same campsite where Ed and Melanie Callison were photographed. Right then, Devil’s Willow Patch became a crime scene for police.
Over several days and hours, Demille and Lloyd questioned Callison. But they never let on that he was a suspect.
“He thought that we believed his story that she had taken flight,” Lloyd said. “And it was a believable story at first, knowing her history and we used that to our advantage, and it kept him talking instead of lawyering up.”
And Callison kept talking and finally opened up. He claimed Melanie had overdosed. He even agreed to take them to the campsite.
“After she died, I got her to there and took her apart because I couldn’t move her and I kind of had to get her to the fire,” said Callison there at the campsite.
Police video recorded his tour of the campsite. Friday, in part two of “To Catch A Killer,” Callison’s own words as to what happened at Devil’s Willow Patch.