A man pleaded guilty on Tuesday to murdering his girlfriend and her son nearly four years ago and accepted a plea deal in exchange for revealing where their bodies are located.
Christopher Poulson, 30, appeared shackled and wearing a red jumpsuit in 4th District Court in American Fork.
He is charged with the murder of his girlfriend, 23-year-old Emily Almiron, and her 3-year-old son, Gabriel.
He pleaded guilty on Tuesday to one count of murder and one amended charge of manslaughter, a second-degree felony.
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.
Prosectors said Poulson led investigators to the location in central Utah where they believe the two bodies will be found.
Utah County deputy attorney Lance Bastian said the area is outside of Utah County, but he does not want to reveal the exact location until investigators can recover the bodies.
Poulson reportedly did not remember precisely where he buried the bodies when he revealed the area last week. Crews are continuing to search the location with trained cadaver dogs.
If the bodies are recovered before the sentencing next month, Bastian said prosecutors will allow Poulson to re-enter a guilty plea to 30 second-degree felonies.
The felonies would include one count of murder, one count of manslaughter and 28 counts of obstruction of justice, with each sentence running consecutively.
Family members wiped away tears as prosecutors revealed details about the night of Sept. 8, 2015, when Almiron reportedly disappeared.
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.
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.
Poulson reportedly told law enforcement he and Almiron broke up on Sept. 8 and she had left their apartment with her son in a red Toyota Prius.
Investigators discovered after that night, Almiron missed shifts at work, classes at the Utah College of Massage Therapy and a child custody exchange with her ex-husband.
She also had not contacted family members or friends, although her mother and one of her friends told investigators they had received odd text messages from Almiron’s phone number on Sept. 10 and 11.
The last transaction from her bank account was at a McDonald’s in Orem on the day of the reported break-up.
Almiron’s vehicle was later found abandoned in St. George with many belongings still inside, including a child’s car seat.
When investigators searched the apartment where Poulson continued to live, they found Almiron’s belongings like shoes, toys, makeup and a guitar and amplifier were still there, according to charges.
Police searched Poulson’s phone history and found he reportedly bought a shovel and work gloves and traveled to a rural area near Payson the day after the disappearance.
Poulson also sold his vehicle soon afterward and police later found evidence of human remains in the trunk.
“Soon after being confronted with all of this evidence, defendant offered no explanations for his clear involvement and almost immediately moved to Hawaii,” charges state.
Police arrested Poulson in Hawaii and extradited him to Utah in 2017. The bodies of the mother and son have still not been found.
Other charges dismissed in the plea deal were one second-degree felony of obstructing justice and two counts of the third-degree felony of abuse or desecration of a dead human body.
The sentencing is set for Sept. 26 at the 4th District Courthouse in Provo.