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Family searches for answers after apparent murder along Jordan River

Posted at 9:25 PM, Jul 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-17 00:11:27-04

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah family is pleading for answers after police confirmed they're investigating the death of a man on the Jordan River in June as a homicide.

The family of Joseph Salas is sharing their story in hopes someone will step forward and help them get closure.

When you see the news report of a man found dead on the Jordan River, Alexia and Heather Ramos want you to know: That man meant the world to them.

"It hurts every day to know that you can never turn around and tell that person you love them, ever again," Alexia said.

Heather and Joe were together for 24 years. They share a son, and Joe raised Alexia as his own daughter since she was a year old.

The mother and daughter explained how family was so important to Joe. He was known as the "favorite uncle."

"He left behind a family and grandkids, and he was very proud of each and every one of them," Heather said.

In addition to his family, they described how Joe loved fishing. He often went to City Creek or the Jordan River.

"He loved City Creek Canyon. That's where he could catch fish with his hands," Heather reminisced. "He'd just all of a sudden, just wing fish out of the river."

"It was awesome," Alexia added, smiling.

That's exactly what the family did together on Sunday, June 6. They had no idea that would be the family's last day with Joe.

"Who would have thought that would be the last time he'd be with his kids," Heather said, through tears. "But it was a good day. It was a good day."

"It was really good day," Alexia remembered. "Nothing but smiles and happiness."

Joe was found dead in one of his favorite fishing spots on the Jordan River, which his family said he's fished at since he was a kid. It's off North Temple near the fairgrounds.

READ: Sandy woman found dead along Jordan River; Suspect arrested

Heather said she saw Joe out there on Monday, June 7. Her last memory of Joe is of him walking away toward the Jordan River.

She said the medical examiner can't say yet when Joe died, or how much time passed before being discovered.

Salt Lake City Police could only say that the injuries Joe suffered point to homicide.

Alexia and Heather explained that Joe had a lot of friends and knew people everywhere around town, including those staying along the Jordan River. They described how his interactions were positive, and people loved hanging out with him.

They want to know what happened, and why. Heather indicated how she's worried the person responsible will kill someone else, putting another family through the pain and torture they're now enduring.

"He was taken away from us and that's not fair," Heather said, wiping away tears.

"I really just want to know why," Alexia said.

"Why more than anything," Heather echoed.

"It hurts," Alexia said.

Heather described how she is Joe's voice now as she searches for answers. She's hung posters around Salt Lake City and West Valley City with Joe's picture, and a call for information.

She also decorated a tree at the Fairbourne Station Promenade and Plaza park in West Valley City with cards, flowers, and fliers. She said that spot is special because she and Joe used to meet up there. They also at one time lived down the street from that area.

Salt Lake City Police made the same call for info, saying anyone who calls in a tip can remain anonymous.

People can call 801-799-3000 and reference case number 21-99152.

So when you hear the news report and the name Joseph Salas, Alexia and Heather want you to know what Joe meant to him -- to his whole entire family.

And they want you to know how much this is tearing them apart.

Heather clutched a picture in a frame with the inscription, "Together Forever." The picture shows the couple happy and smiling.

"I'm sorry, mom. I'm sorry," Alexia said, consoling her mother.

"He was my best friend," Heather replied, adding through tears, "and I love him."