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Utah man who killed his mother 17 years ago arrested for following girls into high school

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Posted at 3:44 PM, Nov 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-21 18:11:13-05

SALT LAKE CITY — A man with a history of violence and mental illness was arrested last week for allegedly following two teenage girls into a local high school and saying he was there to hurt kids.

Matthew Alex Kirkham, 51, was charged with one third-degree felony count of burglary and is being held without bail.

According to charging documents, Kirkham was walking through the parking lot of Highland High School in Salt Lake City on Thursday when he saw the pair of teens get out of a car and walk toward the school. He then followed them into the school, and once inside, police say he continued to follow one of the girls until she found a school security officer.

The officer confronted Kirkham and escorted him out of the school. During the process, police say Kirkham "stated he was there to hurt kids."

Court records show that Kirkham pleaded guilty by reason of mental illness to manslaughter in 2007. He killed his own mother, 72-year-old Joeann Kirkham, in 2005 by hitting her in the head with a rock and then suffocating her. He was initially charged with murder but was offered a plea deal after mental health experts said he "lacked the ability to form the intent to kill," according to a 2011 Salt Lake Tribune report.

Kirkham reportedly had schizophrenia and said he killed his mother because he heard the voices of evil spirits in his head.

The Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office wrote in court documents for this latest incident that Kirkham's "history of violence indicates that the defendant poses a danger to the community, in this case particularly to innocent children as indicated by his actions and his own admission."

A judge ordered that he remain in custody without the option of being released on bail.