EAGLE MOUNTAIN, Utah — A 25-year-old man has been charged after confessing to the Utah County Sheriff's Office that he took trash from several Eagle Mountain residents and left it on private property instead of at the dump.
Justin Persinger was charged with illegal dumping and theft by deception. Both charges are misdemeanors.
On Friday afternoon, Utah County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Spencer Cannon took photos of discarded furniture, boxes and random objects that sat on snow and mud amongst juniper trees.
The piles of trash were abandoned far back on private property at the base of Lake Mountain, on the outskirts of Eagle Mountain.
Sgt. Cannon pointed out an old pair of Sorel boots, as well as a dog crate and what appeared to be canned beets in mason jars. Old couches and chairs were stacked under mattresses and dressers.
"For 20 more minutes' time, this guy could have done it the right way," he said, referring to the fact that the dump in Cedar Fort was a mere 5-mile drive.
As he documented the investigation, he found a box with a name.
"This does have identifiable information on it," he said.
The Sheriff's Office was already aware of who this stuff belonged to, because of Amazon boxes with names and addresses.
But that's why the owners of all that stuff couldn't believe it was left there.
"I was just like, 'Are you kidding me?'" Torri Kenison asked in disbelief.
She claimed ownership of a sink, two dressers, dog crate, Christmas lights and boxes that were strewn about with the rest of the junk.
"That's my stuff, and it needs to be appropriately disposed of. And I was irritated that I was lied to," said Scarlet Davis.
Many of the items belong to Davis and her husband, who recently cleaned out their garage and got rid of a trailer-full of unwanted things.
Ring doorbell video shows how this all started out, when Kenison hired a man off Facebook a week ago Wednesday.
That man, later identified as Persinger, she explained, posted in a community group offering to make dump runs for people to earn extra cash. Kenison said at least 15 people commented to take him up on his offer less than 30 minutes after he made the post.
"I was like, 'Yeah, I'll just have this guy do it. He seems reasonable. There's quite a bit of interest,'" Kenison recounted.
She described how Persinger quickly showed up and took the items off her porch to load into his trailer. Persinger told her he was picking up items for other people, she said, including one person who was paying him $150. Kenison and her husband paid Persinger $30, and he went on his way.
But fast forward to earlier this week, when another Facebook post popped up in the same community group. The post warned against hiring the same man Kenison hired to make a dump run, with explanations that he wasn't actually going to the dump.
Several pictures were attached, and Kenison immediately recognized all her things.
"He literally dumped two minutes from my house," she said.
Just around the corner from her home, it appeared Kenison's trash was abandoned along with trash from other people. When she called the Utah County Sheriff's Office, she found out they were already on the case.
"He was like, 'So you got hit by the dumpster bandit?'" she said of what the deputy told her. "And I was like, 'Yeah.' And he said I was one of four people that called that day about it."
Sgt. Cannon said they've had several people contact them with the same story: They paid a man money to haul away trash, only to find their things illegally dumped on private property.
Davis is the one who figured it all out and made the original Facebook post. She explained that someone walking in the area found the garbage and noticed Davis' name on some of the boxes, then reached out to her.
Her post led to comments from many others, recognizing their items.
"My stuff was unloaded with a bunch of other people's stuff," she said. "So they have come out and said, 'Oh, that's mine. That's mine.'"
Davis said she and her husband paid Persinger $100 and even let him borrow their trailer, which was jam-packed full, to go to the so-called dump.
While Davis was worried at first that the Sheriff's Office would find her items and fine her, she now just wants everything cleaned up. She said many people have volunteered to help her haul everything out this weekend and dispose of it the right way.
In the meantime, Kenison and Davis have both messaged Persinger to confront him. They each said he is denying he dumped the items there, and even went as far as telling Kenison the items she found weren't hers.
Davis said she understands hard times and poor decisions, and doesn't expect her money back.
But she does want Persinger to make better choices and learn from this.
"If they get away with things like this, then it ends up hurting the community and himself," she said. "So, I just want him to recognize that what he did was wrong."