A wide range of crimes occurred in Utah County in November. Human trafficking and sexual abuse were reported, not to mention the many crimes that go unreported every day.
These are the 10 most-read crime and court articles in November 2019.
This list is intended to inform the public of crimes believed to be occurring in their community. All arrestees are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Six men arrested in Lehi for reportedly planning to meet 13-year-olds for sex
Police arrested at least six men Thursday in Lehi after the men reportedly planned to meet up with and engage in sexual activity with who they thought were children, but were actually undercover officers.
The men — 24-year-old Devin Hunter of Riverton, 47-year-old Lyle Leifson of Pleasant Grove, 19-year-old Miguel Millan of Sandy, 22-year-old Jaydon Passey of West Valley City, 27-year-old Raymond Rivera of Pleasant Grove and 26-year-old Ricardo Yanez of Herriman — were all arrested Thursday on suspicion of the second-degree felony of enticing a minor by internet or text.
Millan was also arrested on suspicion of the first-degree felony of rape of a child, and Yanez was also arrested on suspicion of the class A misdemeanor of obstruction of justice.
Hunter reportedly had a conversation on a social media app with who he thought was a 13-year-old girl to perform sexual acts on him, according to a police report. He reportedly traveled to a park they’d decided to meet at, where the FBI Child Exploitation Task Force arrested him. He reportedly told police after his arrest that he went to the park expecting sexual acts from the girl.
Leifson communicated on an app with who he thought was a 13-year-old boy, and agreed to go to a gas station in Lehi to meet the boy for sexual acts, according to a police report. Leifson reportedly told police he changed his mind once he got to the gas station and was going to counsel the boy, according to the report. Leifson is reportedly a registered sex offender in Utah.
Millan asked for pictures and agreed to meet who he thought was a 13-year-old girl for sex, according to a police report. He was arrested at a gas station where he’d agreed to meet the child, and officers found lubricant and condoms in his car, according to the report. Millan reportedly cooperated with officers.
Passey asked who he thought was a 13-year-old girl on an app to ride in his car with him, and then turned the conversation sexual the next day, according to a police report. He reportedly suggested he could go to the girl’s house and have sex with her after her father went to work. He reportedly arrived at a gas station where they agreed to meet and was taken into custody.
Rivera asked who he thought was a 13-year-old girl on an app to engage in sexual relations with him, according to a police report. He reportedly went to Skyridge High School in Lehi to meet her and was arrested, according to the report. He reportedly denied speaking with the child, and had been spotted handling his phone during a traffic stop before leaning down. A second phone was found under the seat, according to the report.
Yanez had a sexual conversation on an app with who he thought he was a 13-year-old girl, according to a police report. He reportedly arrived at a gas station and was pulled over, where he deleted the app and conversation from his phone. He reportedly told police he knew the girl was 13, but thought it was fake, and that he suggested meeting for sex. He reportedly told police he deleted the conversation off his phone, and said he had been investigated for meeting a girl for sex in exchange for drugs before, but was never charged.
Human trafficking operation yields more than two dozen arrests in Lehi, several victims rescued
Investigators arrested 26 people who were involved in human trafficking dealings during a three-day undercover operation last week in Lehi.
The Utah County Sheriff’s Office Special Victims Unit, the Lehi Police Department and the Department of Homeland Security Investigators partnered with Operation Underground Railroad to conduct a human trafficking operation.
A total of 26 people were arrested, including many individuals who reportedly agreed to sexually assault children under the age of 18, according to a press release from the sheriff’s office.
The operation also rescued several victims of human trafficking and officials are currently offering aid and assistance to them.
At least three individuals were arrested under investigation of exploiting a prostitute, or the role of acting as a pimp. Other individuals were reportedly under investigation for drug activity in addition to human trafficking.
Shane Smith, 26, of Murray, started chatting with an undercover agent he believed to be a 13-year-old girl. He reportedly planned to drive her to California and pay her $200 for sexual acts, a police probable cause report stated.
He was arrested at an arranged meeting place and booked into jail for enticement of a minor, exploitation of a minor and attempted aggravated kidnapping of a minor. At the time, he was also on pre-trial release on a previous arrest in Salt Lake County for unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.
“It is important to recognize that these arrests came from a three-day human trafficking sting operation, in one small area, in one county in Utah,” the press release stated.
The Unified Police Department, the Salt Lake City Police Department and the Provo Police Department also assisted in the operation that lasted from Nov. 19-21.
Alpine man charged for reportedly sexually assaulting teenage girl for years
An Alpine man is facing felony charges for reportedly sexually assaulting a teenager for years, despite the teenager’s mother allegedly knowing about the abuse.
Kristopher Avard Kinkade, 53, was charged on Monday with three counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child and one count of object rape, all first-degree felonies. He is also charged with three counts of forcible sexual abuse, all second-degree felonies.
If convicted, imprisonment is mandatory for the aggravated sexual abuse charges with a possible 15 years to life sentence for each count.
Earlier this month, investigators met with a girl who reported Kinkade had sexually abused and assaulted her since 2015.
The assaults and abuse reportedly happened at different locations across the West, but “primarily have occurred in Utah County in Alpine and Cedar Hills,” according to a probable cause statement from the Lone Peak Public Safety Department.
Nearly three years ago, a sibling of the teenager reported similar allegations about Kinkade and the teenager. But “the mother was aggressively uncooperative, by refusing to allow her daughter or anyone else to speak with the police, and demanding the case to be closed,” police reported.
“It is believed the mother is aware of the abuse, and for whatever reason is not taking to appropriate steps to protect her daughter,” the probable cause statement reported.
Kinkade is being held at the Utah County Jail without bail. He appeared in 4th District Court on Tuesday for an initial appearance on the charges.
Investigators discovered Kinkade was charged in 2009 with reportedly patronizing a prostitute in Lehi.
In 2011, he was convicted of four second-degree felonies of communications fraud. Charges state Kinkade created a Ponzi scheme to steal $300,000 from five different individuals between 2007 to 2009.
Court records show he continued to pay restitution to the individuals until his arrest last week.
'You did not ruin me': Eagle Mountain man will serve maximum sentence for child sex abuse case
The world was dimly lit, the teenager wrote in a letter, when she was sexually assaulted by an Eagle Mountain man in the basement of his home.
She said the lights were always off and windows were covered by blinds when Benjamin Joseph Norman, 43, would lead her to a massage table and call his sexual abuse a type of chi massage.
During the sentencing for Norman in 4th District Court on Tuesday morning, Judge Lynn Davis called the teenager’s letter “very articulate.”
“The basement window and blinds that shut out the light are now open, and I’m grateful for that,” Davis said.
He sentenced Norman to prison for 26 years to life for sexually abusing and assaulting three girls for nearly two years.
“This is extreme cruelty and disgusting because of multiple victims. It is abhorrent,” Davis said. “But they are remarkable and they are healing.”
Norman will serve 15 years to life for aggravated sexual abuse of a child, a first-degree felony; one to 15 years for sexual exploitation of a minor, a second-degree felony; and 5 years to life for two counts of rape, both first-degree felonies.
Utah County deputy attorney Lauren Hunt confirmed each sentence will run consecutively and Norman will not receive credit for time spent in jail as the case dragged on for three years.
“He’s trying to manipulate your honor, he’s trying to manipulate this court and he is trying to manipulate these girls,” she said during the sentencing. “I hope Mr. Norman spends every day of the rest of his life in prison.”
Norman was initially charged with 63 felony charges for multiple counts of rape, object rape, forcible sodomy, aggravated sexual abuse of a child and sexual exploitation of a minor. Most of the charges were dismissed when he accepted a plea deal in September.
Sgt. Jason Randall with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office Special Victims Unit called the case “one of the most egregious cases, if not the most egregious case” he had ever investigated.
According to charges, Norman sexually abused and assaulted three girls and recorded the abuse on a hidden video camera.
In September 2016, Randall said his team arrested Norman in the middle of adjusting one of his hidden cameras in the bathroom in hopes of extending the battery life.
“The level of manipulation he chose to use to fulfill his carnal desires on children is beyond the pale, which is why I use the term monster, because it fits,” he said during the sentencing.
The Provo courtroom was packed with friends and family of the three girls who gave comfort and statements of support during the sentencing.
The mother of one of the girls said she found out about the abuse after finding pornographic images that Norman had taken using her daughter’s phone.
“He had her climb into bed with him and broke her heart just like it was nothing,” she said through tears. “I’m sorry I couldn’t stop it earlier.”
One of the girls also spoke at the sentencing, stating she hopes Norman rots in prison and never has the chance to abuse another person.
“This is supposed to be my body and you violated it,” she said. “I hope you know you did not ruin me. You have broken me, but I can put myself back together in time.”
Death row inmate Ron Lafferty, who killed two in American Fork in 1984, dies in prison
A death row inmate who claimed he was following divine revelation when he killed his sister-in-law and her baby daughter more than three decades ago has died at the Utah State Prison.
Officials announced Ron Lafferty died at age 78 due to natural causes on Monday morning at the Utah State Prison.
He spent the past 34 years on death row for murdering Brenda Lafferty, 24, and her 1-year-old daughter, Erica, in American Fork in 1984.
Lafferty and his brother Dan claimed they were following a revelation from God when they slashed the throats of the wife and daughter of their brother Allen. Both were sentenced to life imprisonment for the murders.
The men established a small cult with other brothers and cited divine revelation for the murders. But prosecutors claimed Ron Lafferty was mad at the woman for helping his wife divorce him.
He was one of the longest-serving death row inmates in the state after being convicted by juries in 1988 and 1996, according to the Associated Press. After his conviction in 1985 and 1996, Lafferty asked to be put to death by a firing squad.
In August, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied and dismissed four claims stating Lafferty was misrepresented by his first trial attorneys and he should not have been found competent during his two jury trials.
“In light of the record presented, we are not persuaded that reasonable jurists could differ as to the district court’s resolution of this claim,” the court stated in the 18-page ruling.
The AP reported Lafferty might have been executed by firing squad as soon as next year, according to Utah assistant solicitor general Andrew Peterson.
Utah law allows Lafferty the choice between lethal injection or firing squad, and he reportedly chose the latter in court proceedings.
The Lafferty case gained further nationwide attention after becoming the subject of Jon Krakauer’s 2003 book “Under the Banner of Heaven,” which detailed the Lafferty murders and the practice of polygamy in Utah and beyond.
The last inmate executed by a firing squad was Ronnie Lee Gardner in 2010, who shot and killed a man during a robbery in 1985 in Salt Lake City.
Police identify pedestrian killed in American Fork hit and run, suspect driver arrested
Officers arrested an American Fork man who reportedly fled the scene after striking and killing a pedestrian with his truck earlier this week in American Fork.
Darrell Allen Day, 37, was booked into the Utah County Jail for investigation of failure to remain at an accident involving death, a third-degree felony.
Officers and EMS personnel responded to 280 E. Main St. around 8 p.m. on Monday on reports that a male pedestrian had been struck by a vehicle.
Scott Sleator, 64, died of his injuries before emergency responders arrived, according to a press release from the American Fork Police Department.
After speaking with witnesses and retrieving surveillance footage of the collision, investigators learned Sleator had been walking in a dark area in the middle of the road without a crosswalk.
“As (the vehicle) approached the pedestrian, it made no effort to swerve or brake until after (the vehicle) collided with the pedestrian,” police reported in a probable cause report.
The collision pushed the pedestrian to the opposite side of the road where the man was hit again by a second vehicle traveling in the opposite direction. Police reported the second driver hit the brakes but was unable to avoid striking Sleator.
The first vehicle reportedly slowed down substantially for a few seconds after the crash before quickly accelerating away from the street, according to the police report.
“The second vehicle involved stopped immediately after colliding with the pedestrian. The driver of this vehicle immediately summoned emergency services,” the report stated.
At the scene, investigators recovered white paint chips and a full headlight assembly belonging to the first vehicle, a white 2006-2009 Dodge Ram with a cargo style shell and double doors on the rear.
“Since the crash, investigators had spent hours investigating the incident which included collecting video surveillance from multiple businesses,” a department press release stated. “Through that surveillance, they were eventually able to determine the neighborhood the suspect vehicle likely came from.”
A resident also called the police department and reported Day could be the owner of the truck involved in the crash. Another resident also reportedly talked with Day and advised him to contact investigators.
Day reportedly turned himself in later on Wednesday, police reported. In interviews with investigators, police say that he said he knew he struck the pedestrian but fled the scene because he didn’t want to go to jail.
Investigators do not believe he was impaired or distracted at the time of the crash, the press release stated.
“Our hearts are still broken for the family of Scott Sleator who was killed,” investigators wrote in the press release. “We appreciate the media and citizens who helped share this story. We appreciate all the businesses who assisted by providing video surveillance and also the many citizens who called in tips.”
Day reportedly had a suspended driver’s license at the time of the crash and a warrant issued for his arrest for a traffic offense in Salt Lake County.
The probable cause police report stated Day has previously been convicted of multiple thefts, drug offenses and possession of a weapon by a restricted person.
Former Provo middle school teacher sent to jail for giving nude pictures, alcohol to teen
A former Provo teacher at Centennial Middle School will serve more than a month in jail for giving alcohol to a teenage student and sending her nude pictures of women.
Jefferson Hendricks Hall, 39, was sentenced to 45 days in jail and two years on probation for two class A misdemeanors of furnishing alcohol to a minor and attempting to deal harmful materials to a minor.
As part of a plea agreement, a third-degree felony of dealing in materials harmful to a minor was dismissed.
Judge Darold McDade in 4th District Court ordered the American Fork man to report to the Utah County Jail for his sentence on Dec. 6.
According to charges, Hall sent inappropriate pictures to a 16-year-old female student sometime in July 2019. They had also sent numerous text messages about tattoos, games, family life and sex, although not with each other, police reported.
The teenager told investigators Hall had given her alcohol when she slept at his residence in 2018. She denied there had been any sexual contact with Hall, charges state.
In interviews with police, Hall reportedly said he had similar conversations with other students, but he is not currently facing any additional charges.
Hall taught seventh grade and eighth grade math last year at Centennial Middle School, according to Provo City School District officials. He had been employed with the Provo City School District for five years and was scheduled to start teaching at Timpview High School before his arrest.
Six Utah County men among those charged with undercutting Lindon company with computer glitch
Investigators with the Utah County Attorney’s Office filed charges on Friday against seven men who reportedly used a computer glitch to undermine a Lindon company and steal clients for a competing business.
Eric Oldson, 44, of Orem; Jason Marsh, 43, of Mapleton; John Priday, 40, of Lehi; Michael Perley, 36, of Lehi; Spencer Oldson, 37, of Provo; Tyler Fredrickson, 35, of Springville; and Jeffrey Johns, 41, of Henderson, Nevada were all charged with a first-degree felony of unlawful activity and a second-degree felony of computer crime.
At some point in November 2015, a computer glitch disabled the company website for Vox, a Lindon-based marketing company.
“The company requires that each employee accessing the system has a unique user name and password. That system allows the company the ability to regulate what each employee can access,” charges state. “At some point the code requiring a name and password for that page was disabled without Vox’s knowledge.”
The men aforementioned were all employees of a company competing with Vox, police reported. After discovering the glitch, the men reportedly shared access with each other and found private information from Vox like pricing, customer item numbers, plans, tendencies, preferences and recommendations.
Using the stolen information, the men reportedly contacted Vox’s customers without solicitation and underbid Vox, sometimes by only a few cents, according to charges.
“This continued through August 12, 2016 when a customer informed Vox there may be a problem,” court documents state. “Vox discovered the error in the code and repaired the security glitch that allowed the defendant access to the victim company’s proprietary information.”
Police reported the men’s actions cost the company more than $5,000 in revenue. Court records show none of the men have any prior criminal history.
Hawaii man charged with raping woman near hiking trail in Provo
Officers with the Brigham Young University Police Department filed charges against a Hawaiian man who reportedly raped a woman earlier this year near a popular hiking trail in Provo.
Vai Liu, 30, was charged in 4th District Court with rape, a first-degree felony, and forcible sexual abuse, a second-degree felony.
In July, Liu and a woman were kissing in a vehicle parked near the Y trailhead, according to court documents. At one point, Liu reportedly sexually abused and assaulted the woman despite her protests.
Investigators learned Liu also reportedly sent several texts apologizing to the woman.
He is not currently in custody, though charges state prosecutors intend to seek a warrant for his arrest.
Provo man arrested for reportedly installing hidden camera in Eagle Mountain home
The Utah County Sheriff’s Office arrested a 23-year-old Provo man after he reportedly installed a hidden camera in an Eagle Mountain home.
Spencer Hansen was arrested and booked into the Utah County Jail on Wednesday on suspicion of three counts of the second-degree felony of sexual exploitation of a minor and two counts of the class B misdemeanor of voyeurism by electronic equipment that is concealed or disguised.
Earlier in October, Hansen had installed a hidden camera designed to look like a cellphone charger in a bathroom of a home he was living at in Eagle Mountain, according to a police report.
An adult reportedly recognized the device was a hidden camera, removed it and looked at the SD card. On the card was video footage of three underage girls, including videos that show the children entering the shower, according to the report. Two adults had also been recorded using the shower, and at least three other people were included on video.
Hansen reportedly told an adult he had placed the hidden camera in the bathroom and said he “has a thing” for one of the children.
When approached by police, Hansen reportedly asked for an attorney, and then later said he understood there are consequences and “this is my own doing,” reports state.