Dominating the headlines this year came stories about sexual assaults, embezzlement, homicide, arson, drug distribution, shootings, thefts and hundreds of serious and petty crimes.
But these are likely the crime stories we’ll remember most from 2019 as we start the new decade.
5. Orem nursing facility administrator embezzled $170K
An administrator with Stonehenge of Orem, a short-term rehabilitation and skilled nursing center, reportedly stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from the business to fund family vacations and other personal expenses.
Timothy Claybaugh, 36, was arrested and charged with two counts of money laundering and three counts of theft, all second-degree felonies.
“It was found that Timothy purchased vast amounts of unauthorized personal items including gift cards, groceries, appliances, flowers for his wife, construction tools and materials to finish his basement, toys, a bike, diapers, furniture, electronics, landscape materials, a barn door, fast food, candy and energy drinks,” police reported. “The amount Timothy has spent on his company card in a two-year time period is a staggering $148,794.”
He used the company credit card to fund trips to Costa Rica, New York and Disneyland, as well as buying more than 400 gift cards for Visa, Delta, Hotels.com, Airbnb, Home Depot, Nordstrom, Fandango, Amazon, Target, Cold Stone, Verizon and Walmart.
Claybaugh previously worked as an administrator for Stonehenge of American Fork in 2012 and Stonehenge of South Jordan in 2015. The police report did not disclose whether embezzlement happened at those locations as well.
4. Shooting in Springville leaves man dead under train overpass
A 29-year-old man was shot and killed in September after consuming drugs and alcohol and spray painting an area under a train overpass near southern Springville with another man.
Lazaro Morales “appears to have been in the act of ‘tagging’ a concrete pillar when (he) was shot at least 4 times with a 9mm handgun,” police reported.
His companion, Victor Hugo Contreras-Nathanson, 25, was charged with his murder after investigators found a footprint, tire tracks, white paint and other evidence at the scene.
In interviews with police, Contreras-Nathanson reportedly said he spent most of the previous night with Morales using cocaine, methamphetamine and alcohol.
He reportedly said he was so high that he blacked out and doesn’t remember anything after 10 p.m. and “it was possible” he shot and killed Morales, police reported.
3. Report shows BYU police officer shared information with Honor Code Office
Investigative reports accused a Brigham Young University police officer of illegally accessing protected information from other police agencies and distributing the information to university offices between August 2014 and June 2016.
Records from the Utah’s Peace Officer Standards and Training show Lt. Aaron Rhoades accessed private police reports from the Orem Police Department, Utah County Sheriff’s Office and the Provo Police Department and gave information from those reports to the BYU Dean of Students Office, the Title IX Office and the Honor Code Office.
The documents were released just days after the Utah Department of Public Safety moved to decertify the BYU University Police.
2. Utah County investigators arrest 13 people for reported child sex crimes
An undercover operation targeting child sexual predators in Utah County resulted in 13 arrests and nearly four dozen felony charges in May.
Officials said the men were reportedly actively and aggressively trying to initiate sexual contact with children, typically targeting girls and boys ages 11 to 13.
“We as a law enforcement community are deeply troubled by these alleged crimes and the apparent increase in the attempts to meet children,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes at a press conference.
Among those arrested were residents from Provo, Orem, Springville, Mapleton, Taylorsville, Magna and Layton.
1. Officers identify suspect who shot, killed Provo police officer
Master Officer Joseph Shinners with the Provo Police Department died in January after he was shot trying to apprehend a wanted fugitive near a shopping center in Orem.
Shinners, 29, was a three-year veteran on the force and left behind a wife and a 1-year-old son. He was “decent in every single way” and was “the very best of the Provo Police Department,” said Provo Police Chief Richard Ferguson.
Hundreds lined the streets in Springville during the funeral procession as a hearse carrying Shinners’ casket drove from Taylorsville to Wheeler Mortuary in Springville.
“He is the officer who you would want to show up at your door in your biggest crucible moment,” Ferguson said at a press conference.
Shinners was the first Utah County law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty since Utah County Sheriff’s Sgt. Cory Wride was killed in Eagle Mountain in January 2014.