The Justice Files: ‘Who killed my son?’

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WEST JORDAN Utah (ABC4 Utah) – Sheryl Conlon sensed something was wrong.

The signs showed trouble for her son Steven.  

In July 2016, she noticed her 29-year old son had applied for a job as a chef at a Denver restaurant. It struck her as odd because he had just moved his family to Utah from their Colorado home.

“He told me before he left that if it didn’t turn out he’d return to Colorado,” Sheryl Conlon said.

But then his common-law wife called her asking if she had seen Steven.

“(She said) he kind of disappeared and I said what does that mean?” Conlon recalled. 

“And she says I thought he came back to Colorado and I said not without his kids and she abruptly said nothing and I said what’s going on Jennifer.”

The next day, July 20, 2016, West Jordan police responded to a 911 call.  Neighbors watched the commotion unfold.

“They just say he collapsed on the front yard,” one neighbor told ABC4 in 2016.  “I don’t know if it was an accident.”

But after police investigated the realized it was no accident.

“We are comfortable in saying that this as a homicide,” Lt. Drew Sanders told reporters. “He does have gunshot wounds to his body.”

Sanders didn’t know how long the man had been there. The homeowner didn’t even know he was there. A utility worker spotted the body and called 911. It took several days for police to identify Conlon. They suspected he had been dead at least two days before he was discovered.

Sheryl Conlon who lives in Colorado again received another call from Conlon’s common-law wife.

“He’d been beaten,” she said.  “He’d been stabbed 26 times and he was shot twice in the face.  Personal, that was the first thing out of my mouth. It was personal.”

Several search warrants were executed over the next few weeks.  They collected DNA from the scene and family members.   The warrants also requested phone records from Conlon’s common-law wife.  Police said there was no evidence linking any family member to Conlon’s murder.

In 2019, another search warrant that was sealed became public.  It was a promising lead.  Shell casings led detectives to two men with ties to a local gang.  The shell casings were similar to a shooting in Sandy.  Detectives requested the men’s DNA.  But a spokesman with West Jordan police said the men were cleared when the DNA didn’t match the evidence found at the scene.

“It is disappointing,” said Sgt. J.C. Holt. “But we are continuing to work this case.”

He said the evidence they found at the scene belonged to someone else and Holt believes once they make a match, they’ll find Conlon’s killer.

Meanwhile, Conlon has expressed her frustration with the police investigation.

“It seems like they don’t care,” Conlon said.

She even appeared on a “Catch my Killer” podcast based in Ohio expressing her views.

Marc Hoover, Host:  “Have you considered writing to the mayor or the governor or anybody higher up like that?”

Conlon:  “I did. I did.  I’ve been totally ignored.”

But Conlon said she planned to fight through this and will wait for another phone call, hopefully from the police. Her son’s common-law wife has since moved and remarried. She has lost touch with her three grandchildren. For now, all she has are memories that are pulling her through her darkness.

“He was a good kid,” Conlon said. “He was a good daddy. He was a great son.”

Sgt. Holt said the case has gone cold but they are continuing to investigate with their investigation.  He said the DNA evidence found at the scene was tested at a forensics crime lab but it did not yield a suspect. He said they are still trying to run the DNA through other labs using different methods in hopes of finding Conlon’s killer. 

Marcos Ortiz
Emmy award winning journalist and producer, reporter of the Justice Files seen nightly on ABC4, begining his career in Blythe California with stops in Green River and Cheyenne Wyoming. He was hired to be KGGM’S political reporter in Santa Fe, New Mexico before arriving in Salt Lake City in 1992 as a general assignments reporter before moving into the crime beat.
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