Authorities identify man found dead near Saltair

Posted at 9:49 AM, Feb 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-12 21:47:27-05

MAGNA, Utah - Authorities have identified the man found dead Thursday near Saltair as 22-year-old Chandler Cooper.

Officials said a couple out hiking found his body near 11500 W. Frontage Rd. and they are now investigating his death as a homicide.

"With the absence of a weapon and transportation, it kind of leads you down the path that it is a homicide," Det. Ken Hansen of the Unified Police Department said.

Hansen said the victim has a criminal history.

"He has a history," Hansen said. "He's not very old, especially in the adult system. He has four years in the adult system, but he does have a history of drugs and narcotics."

Neighbors tell FOX 13 Cooper lived in Millcreek with his grandmother, whom they said he had a very close relationship with. They also said he struggled with some things, and that last year he had been shot and as a result was in a wheelchair.

Police said it is unclear how the man came to be in the deserted area with an apparent gunshot wound.

"We're looking for people to tell us the last time they saw him, and who they saw him with or what kind of vehicle he was in," Hansen said.

Anyone with information about the death is encouraged to contact Unified Police.

The woman who found the body spoke to FOX 13 News about the discovery.

"I was walking down the trail and, at first, I saw a blue pair of pants, and I'm like, 'That's weird someone would leave their pants here,'" Shylo Gottling said, who found the body. "I walked a few steps closer. I saw a hand and that's when I got nervous."

Gottling said she found the body lying next to a trail among the sage brush and dirt.

The spot is about 100 yards north of a frontage road where she and her friend parked their truck.

Saltair man found dead map

"I didn't know what to do, I was so scared," she said. "I was just speechless. I just stood there in shock for a moment processing what it was... My tears just swelled up, and I ripped out my phone really quick and called 911 really quick, and I had trouble speaking because I was shaking, crying, and I didn't know what to do," she said.