Convicted sex offender could have faked his own death, police say

Posted at 7:54 PM, Jul 29, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-29 22:53:28-04

MIDVALE, Utah -- A convicted sex offender could have faked his own death, Unified Police said Monday.

Police said they initially thought Norman Deem killed himself, but now the evidence suggests otherwise.

“Right now, we don’t know if Norman Deem is alive, or if he is deceased,” said Lt. Justin Hoyal of Unified Police.

On May 8, Deem was arrested by Kaysville Police for failing to register as a sex offender. The next day his wife reported him missing.  On May 12, Unified Police were called to the Jordan River where Deem’s car was found by the water. They also recovered a shotgun, some clothes with blood on them, but not Deem’s body, according to officials.

Police searched the river on the ground and by helicopter and found no trace of him, which has made it hard for them to declare Deem as dead.

“In those kinds of situations, there’s a lot more blood, a lot more evidence,” explained Hoyal. “When you’re using a high powered rifle, there’s a lot more evidence there at the scene to indicate that somebody had taken their life, or had been shot by that kind of a rifle. And so, there’s just not that evidence there to suggest to us that somebody had died there.”

The legal system is still treating Deem as though he’s alive. A no bail warrant was issued for his arrest after he did not appear for his sentencing hearing in June, related to two counts of exploitation of a minor.

He is also still facing a charge for failing to register as a sex offender, although when he failed to appear for that charge, a court document noted that he may be missing or deceased.

“He is facing some felony charges that could be coming his way. And if in fact he did fake his death, it may be a reason for averting these charges,” said Hoyal.

According to Kaysville Police, Deem contacted a suicide hotline before he was reported missing.  While authorities still consider him a missing person, Deem’s family has contended that he is dead. While they declined to be interviewed for this story, Hoyal said Deem’s parents do not believe their son tried to skip town.

“Stranger things have happened,” said Hoyal. “However, we do not have sufficient evidence in this case to say that somebody died there at that scene.”

The investigation remains open.