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Investigators discover bodies of murdered Orem woman, son in Eureka

Authorities confirmed the remains of an Orem woman and her son were found more than a month after a Utah man admitted to killing and burying the two bodies almost four years ago.

The remains were discovered last Friday about five miles south of Eureka in Juab County, according to a social media post form the Orem Police Department.

Members of the Juab County Search and Rescue Team came across “what they believed to be a shallow grave” and found human remains in the grave, the post stated.

The remains were removed from the area and the Medical Examiner’s Office determined the bodies were Emily Quijano Almiron and her 3-year-old son Gabe Almiron.

“Our hearts also go out to the families of Emily and Gabe. We hope that these efforts have brought some peace and comfort into your lives,” the department wrote.

Investigators with the FBI, the Orem Police Department, the Juab County Sheriff’s Office and the Juab County Search and Rescue Team searched the area for more than a month after the sudden confession from the Smithfield man accused of killing his girlfriend and her son.

Christopher Poulson, 30, pleaded guilty in August to one count of murder, a first-degree felony and one count of manslaughter, a second-degree felony.

After keeping the details of the murder quiet for years, he finally agreed to cooperate with investigators and reveal the location of the bodies in exchange for a plea deal and reduced sentence.

Prosecutors said Poulson led investigators to the location in central Utah, although he reportedly said he didn’t remember exactly where the remains were buried.

Almiron and her son were reported missing the night of Sept. 8, 2015, after family members realized she missed shifts at work, classes at the Utah College of Massage Therapy and a child custody exchange.

According to a statement read in court, Poulson was babysitting Gabriel when he severely injured the child. Instead of seeking medical attention, Poulson put the boy to bed.

No details were released about the nature of the injury or the incident.

When Almiron arrived home, she reportedly also went to bed. In the morning when Poulson checked on Gabriel, he found the boy had died.

Poulson “panicked,” prosecutors said, and he took a handgun and shot Almiron while she slept, court documents state.

No further details were released about what occurred after the killings. Prosecutors said Poulson was drinking alcohol and using meth while he was babysitting.

“The complete disappearance of Emily and Gabriel and their abandonment of all their property, coupled with defendant’s actions and obstructions and lies to police, show that defendant murdered Emily and three-year-old Gabriel in the same criminal episode, and then wrapped them in sheets to move their bodies and then buried or otherwise disposed,” charges stated.

The murder charge carries a potential sentence of 15 years to life in prison, and the other charge has a possible sentence of one to 15 years.

The sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 26 at the 4th District Courthouse in Provo.

Lehi teen wins gold at international archery competition

Makenzie Weatherspoon spent the first few days of school across an ocean, a compound bow in her hand, shooting in a royal courtyard in Madrid. And while most of her classmates were turning in their first assignments, she was crying on a podium with her teammates.

“We’re on the podium with our gold medals and the national anthem in the background, and you think about how much work you put into this, because there is a lot,” Makenzie said. “That’s a lot of hours and time there, and a lot of arrows shot.”

Makenzie is a 15-year-old sophomore at Lehi High School, and now, a world champion. She took home a gold and a silver medal last month at the 2019 World Archery Youth Championships in Spain, where she joined a total of 585 athletes representing 61 countries in her first international tournament.

“It’s basically the compound Olympics,” said Scott Weatherspoon, Makenzie’s father.

Makenzie began shooting bows at the age of four after Scott, a bow hunter, started taking her and her sister to the archery range.

“Scott wanted something that he could do with his girls, and he wasn’t going to do ballet or tumbling, so I guess archery is it,” said Amy Weatherspoon, Makenzie’s mother.

Makenzie did make a cheerleading team, but didn’t want to be thrown into the air and decided to focus on archery, instead.

She started in the Junior Olympic Archery Development program and dedicated herself last fall to increasing the amount of time she spends shooting. She’s at a range at least six days a week for a handful of hours a day.

She used to be one of the few women in the sport, until The Hunger Games exploded in popularity and there was an influx of women into the sport.

Makenzie had to rank as one of the top three females in the nation in her age division in order to make the Spain team. She’s spent the year crisscrossing the country in order to attend different tournaments, all with her eyes on Spain.

She returned home in Lehi to find firetrucks blaring their sirens in her honor.

“It’s nice not to be overlooked,” Scott Weatherspoon said. “Here you have somebody who is competing and training just as hard as any other sport there is, and is finally getting recognized for all the hard work she has done.”

Her father has been her coach since the beginning. His job sends him around the world, where he researches from hotel rooms to give her new tips when he comes home.

“I definitely couldn’t be anywhere near this level without him and all of his knowledge,” Makenzie said.

Although Makenzie shoots records at practice, she’s still working to overcome the mental aspect of the sport at competitions.

“She gets in the way of herself,” Scott Weatherspoon said. “When she finally figures out how to overcome being nervous to shoot against somebody else, or just to be herself, she is going to be amazing.”

Makenzie’s mother said her daughter is constantly being underestimated for her age and size. They were at the Larry H. Miller Utah Summer Games in Cedar City for a team tournament when Amy Weatherspoon heard two competitors complaining about having a small girl on their team. That stopped after they watched Makenzie shoot.

Amy Weatherspoon said she turned around and told them not to judge a book by its cover.

“She shot better than both of them did,” Amy Weatherspoon said. “I love to hear people be like, ‘Oh my gosh. Look at her. She’s so little and look at how well she shoots.’”

BYU capstone projects works toward improving air quality in Mongolian capitol

A multi-phase capstone project from Brigham Young University’s school of engineering could be part of a solution to serious air pollution problems in Mongolia.

In Mongolia’s capitol city of Ulaanbaatar, particulate levels in the air often spike to extremely unhealthy levels. Ulaanbaatar’s air pollution has only gotten worse as the city has tripled in size since 1990 to 1.5 million people, according to the World Health Organization. The rural to urban migration of people has resulted in an increase of informal settlements in “gers,” yurt-like structures made of wood, canvas and insulated with felt.

More than 60% of Ulaanbaatar’s population lives in gers, and up to 80% of the city’s air pollution is attributed to the coal burned to heat those gers, according to WHO.

An estimated 1,800 people died from diseases attributable to household air pollution in 2016, according to WHO, and another 1,500 people died from diseases attributable to outdoor air pollution.

The Mongolian government is now focusing on solutions for the pollution issue. Elder Peter Meurs with the Asia Area Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints looked into partnering with BYU’s Engineering Capstone students to work toward possible solutions.

A capstone project is the culminating project for engineering students, and the projects are often sponsored by external organizations. Deseret Industries, a nonprofit business enterprise owned by the LDS Church, sponsored this capstone project.

Arriving in Ulaanbaatar earlier this year, one could actually taste the air, the pollution was so thick, said Brian Mazzeo, co-director of the capstone project and an electrical and computer engineering professor at BYU.

The team had spent two semesters brainstorming and building prototypes before heading to Mongolia to try out the project.

While in Ulaanbaatar, the students built three modified gers with better insulation including a radiant barrier and an air gap that more effectively trapped heat. The increased insulation allowed for an electric heater to keep the ger at a steady, comfortable temperature, even throughout the night.

The team was also testing air quality both inside and outside the modified gers, said Allyson Gibson, external relations manager for the capstone.

“The air quality improved significantly both inside and outside that ger,” Gibson said.

While there was still measurable air pollution inside the ger because the air outside was so polluted, the modified ger was not emitting pollution.

“You can imagine, and this is where the project is going, if you can take whole districts over and they are no longer emitting any, the air quality in that district is going to be much better for everyone,” Mazzeo said.

The potential solution is unique to Ulaanbaatar and couldn’t be transferred to other cities.

One thing that makes the project particularly feasible is the fact that transitioning to the modified ger is actually cheaper than buying coal.

“So they are incentivized,” Mazzeo said. “They want to do this because they’ll save money and their quality of life is better, and the secondary result is that the air quality in the surrounding area will also be better.”

The Mongolian government even organized a press conference about the work the students had done, and it appeared on national television in the country. The team also met with the Mongolian prime minister at the end of the trip.

Mazzeo described all the attention as “surreal,” and something that rarely happens with capstone projects.

“When the project started, no one was expecting that this kind of thing would be happening,” Mazzeo said.

The trip was only the beginning of the project, Mazzeo said. Kits are being formed so that the modified ger can be easily built by people in Ulaanbaatar. Over the next summer and into the winter, about 125 of those will be in place to study on a larger scale how much improvement can be brought to air quality by using the modified ger.

“If everything goes well with those, then the idea is we have a team this year optimizing the do it yourself kit so it swill be easier and cheaper for them to use,” Gibson said. The long-term goal is to have thousands of the modified gers in the city.

That means they’ll need to move over to having the kits mass-produced so it will reduce cost and shipping, Mazzeo said.

“The actual potential is there for it to be a real solution to a difficult problem,” Mazzeo said.

Fire marshal delays opening of new Saratoga Springs middle school

Lake Mountain Middle School in Saratoga Springs will not open as planned on Tuesday.

“We are frustrated, to say the least,” said Kimberly Bird, a spokeswoman for the Alpine School District.

The district learned Monday afternoon the Saratoga Springs school would not be ready to open the next day after the state fire marshal did not grant occupancy.

“Hogan Construction has been working with the fire marshal over the past several months to understand his expectations in order to safely open the school,” a statement from Hogan Construction reads. “While all of the critical life safety and egress requirements were in place today, the fire marshal wanted to see a higher level of finish in the occupiable areas. Our construction team will continue to do everything possible and anticipate meeting the level of finish early next week and achieving occupancy as soon as possible.”

The school was expected to partially open Tuesday. Parents were alerted to the last-minute delay Monday afternoon. Bird said staff will be at the school Tuesday to alert those who didn’t receive the message from the district.

She did not know Monday when the school is now expected to open.

Students had been using a hybrid educational model for the last few weeks as construction on the new middle school continued. The model has students utilizing online education with an option to receive in-person help from teachers at the nearby Vista Heights Middle School.

Bird said more than 10,000 online assignments had been turned in and that the number of students coming in for help has increased from 135 a day to 350.

“We saw those numbers get stronger as the weeks progressed,” Bird said.

The school has an enrollment of about 1,300 students.

The 200,000-square-foot Saratoga Springs school has seen delays since its beginning. The project was bid in January 2018 with the intention construction would start a month later, but due to coordination between different entities and other projects in the area, was delayed four months. Additionally, a wet winter when crews were doing structural work and an extremely wet spring meant time couldn’t be made up.

The school is expected to partially open as work continues. Some classrooms — like those for career and technical education, the arts and athletics — are expected to be completed in October. The auditorium is expected to be the last part of the school to be completed in December, which has caused the planned fall play to be canceled.

Rumors of a possible delay emerged over the weekend as pictures of the school construction surfaced on social media. Bird said the photos were taken by someone who wasn’t authorized to be in the school, and were from areas that are expected to be the last to be finished.

Bird said the delay isn’t expected to lead to any additional costs to the district, but is causing stress to those involved.

All of Utah Lake under a warning advisory until the end of September

All of Utah Lake is under a warning advisory through at least the end of September, the Utah Department of Environmental Quality announced Monday.

People are advised to not swim or water ski in the lake or ingest the water under an advisory. Pets and livestock should be kept away, fish caught from the lake need to be cleaned well and areas of scum should be avoided when boating.

The warning was issued after cyanobacterial cell counts in three open-water sampling locations exceeded thresholds, according to the announcement. The Utah County Health Department will post advisory signs at the seven permanent sign locations on the lake to warn people of the lake’s condition.

The lake’s algal blooms have the ability to produce cyanobacteria, which can be harmful to humans and animals.

“Due to the variable nature of cyanobacterial blooms on the lake during this time of the year, the lakewide Warning Advisory will remain in place throughout the month of September, at which time UCHD will reevaluate the situation,” the announcement reads.