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Eureka residents say murder suspect ‘acted completely normal’ in days after teen couple vanished

Posted at 10:06 PM, Mar 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-30 00:06:15-04

EUREKA, Utah -- Eureka residents said Thursday they were shocked and left speechless after learning a well-known person in town was arrested and charged in the death of two Juab County teens who disappeared in late December.

41-year old Jerrod Baum is accused of killing 17-year old Brelynne "Breezy" Otteson and 18-year old Riley Powell.

Charging documents state he stabbed them to death then dumped their bodies in a mine shaft, after Baum's girlfriend Morgan Henderson told police he found out she had them over to Baum's dad's house and that Baum didn't want her to have guy friends.

"He had a bad past, that's what I heard," said Eureka resident Heike Anderson of Baum.

According to the charging documents, Baum was convicted of murder once before.

She said Baum was known around town and that people told her to be careful with him, and "not to interact with him or become friends with him."

"I knew he was someone you weren't supposed to be hanging with," said resident Walker Bigler. "He was kind of a different kind of person."

After Breezy and Riley disappeared on December 30, Bigler said he came across Baum on Main Street in Eureka, outside of a business.

Bigler said Baum "acted completely normal."

"He was just standing there having a smoke, talking to us like nothing had happened," he said.

Anderson said she also saw Baum when he and Henderson stopped by a gas station on the edge of town.

"We were standing outside and we were talking, and he was pointing at the poster we have up there and asking, 'Is there anything new about these kids?'" Anderson recalled, referring to the missing poster for Breezy and Riley. "It just make me sick, because he knew it all along."

Now, Anderson and Bigler are trying to wrap their heads around what Baum's accused of—and knowing they bumped into him after the alleged actions took place.

Bigler said it's heartbreaking.

"It's sad. I'm angry," Anderson said. "I know a lot of people in this town are angry."

The families of Breezy and Riley are now also trying to understand.

"This doesn't make sense," said Breezy's aunt, Amanda Hunt, during a press conference on Thursday.

"None of it makes sense," echoed Bill Powell, Riley's father. "Here's two kids that had their whole life ahead of them, and it's gone."

Powell said he wondered what Baum was thinking.

"What was his problem?" Powell asked. "Why did he have so much hate? There's no reason."

"You don't kill kids for jealousy," Hunt said.

She and Powell said they don't have closure yet because they still have to pursue justice for the two, but they are able to move forward in some respects.

"We know where they are," Hunt said. "We know we can lay them to rest."