Draper police rule out murder suspects as Utah teen’s family seeks closure
Police say the men initially arrested are no longer suspected in the crime.
Published: March 7, 2013 10:45AM
Updated: May 31, 2013 11:32PM
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Daniel Robert Lehi Ferry was one of two men arrested in connection with the murder of Anne Kasprzak on March 10, 2012. But almost a year later, on March 6, 2013, Draper police announced that Ferry is no longer a suspect in the crime.

Draper • For two families, Wednesday’s announcement clearing two men of murder came as a relief.But it also brought more questions.

Though they have never met, both families wondered the same thing: Who killed Anne Kasprzak?

The 15-year-old Riverton girl, who pronounced her name “Annie,” was killed nearly a year ago today: Her body, beaten beyond recognition and left in the Jordan River in Draper, was found on March 11, 2012.

Her death remains unsolved.

Within three weeks of the murder, Draper police made two arrests in what initially appeared to be an air-tight case, with a female eyewitness prepared to testify against the two felons. She claimed she saw them knock the girl unconscious, drive off with her body and return hours later covered in blood and bragging about killing her.

But Draper police announced Wednesday that they had arrested the wrong men. Daniel Ferry, 32, and Veanuia Vehekite, 31, were cleared through an extensive investigation, police said.

The news came as a relief to Daniel Ferry’s mother, Loris, and his brother, Chris.

“I never believed Daniel did it,” Loris Ferry said. “I’ve just felt horrible for Anne’s family.”

The two listened in on a press conference at Draper City Hall, hoping to hear police issue an apology for all the heartache they had put the family through in a situation that Loris Ferry said “terrorized our entire family.”

They left disappointed.

Chris Ferry said he has been traumatized since police raided the home and is unable to sleep at night. He also fears for the safety of his brother, who was erroneously branded by police as a child killer.

“I’m upset, upset,” Chris Ferry said. “They treated us horrible. They ruined our house.”

The news was welcomed by Anne’s mother, Veronica Kasprzak.

“I am relieved that everybody is now aware that we’re now looking in a different direction in the case,” she said during a phone interview.

Veronica Kasprzak believes someone is keeping a big secret — the name of the person or persons responsible. The family is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Anne’s killer.

“We’d prefer to be able to move on,” Veronica Kasprzak said. “To know what’s happened. To remember the parts of Anne that we love as opposed to how she died.”

‘No more secrets” • On Sunday, Anne’s family will host a public candlelight vigil at 7 p.m. on the Jordan River bridge near the area of 12600 S. Jordan River Parkway Trail in Draper, where her body was discovered.

They’ll pass out red wristbands (red was Anne’s favorite color) that read: “No more secrets. Be the change.”

“So there are no more secrets regarding Anne’s case,” Veronica Kasprzak explained. She hopes whoever is keeping the secret that could bring her daughter’s killer to justice will come forward.

“As a family we’re not convinced [Ferry] is responsible,” she said. “The information that we’ve received from police is not enough for them to file charges. Not enough for them to feel like this is exactly what happened. It doesn’t mean there’s no way possible he was involved; it just means, based on the information we have, it doesn’t [add up] for us.”

Draper police said they’ll never stop searching for Anne’s killer. Solving the case is the top priority, said Draper police Sgt. Chad Carpenter.

“I believe that we eventually will solve this case,” Carpenter said. “We’ve worked on this case non-stop. We hope to continue to find the killer in the case and bring that person to justice.”

Loris Ferry said she heard in the months after the killing that Anne had been communicating online with another youth, and that’s who killer her. But said she hadn’t told Draper police that.

Draper police did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Loris Ferry’s allegation.

A self-admitted drug dealer, addict and gang member, Ferry has vehemently denied he had anything to do with Anne’s death and insists he didn’t even know the teen. Ferry alleged that police were relying on the purported memory of a woman who is a drug addict and who was angry with him at the time. He claims the junkie made up the entire story.

Anne’s family said they last saw her alive the night of March 10, 2012, when she went to her bedroom to listen to music. At some point, she apparently sneaked out and her family reported her as a runaway. Before Anne left her Riverton home, she spent about 30 minutes talking on her cell phone to people with unavailable phone numbers, according to search warrants unsealed in 3rd District Court.

Where’s the evidence? • Initially it seemed police had an iron-clad case against Daniel Ferry and Vehekite, the warrants state. Police allegedly had the eyewitness who told them that the night of March 10, 2012, Anne arrived at Ferry’s Draper home with someone named “L.J.” “L.J’s” identity remains a mystery. Ferry had made a sexual advance toward Anne and when she rebuffed that advance, he slammed her head into the wall, knocking her unconscious, according to the search warrant.

Police alleged Ferry, Vehekite and L.J., who has not been arrested, moved Anne into the garage, where they changed her clothes, placed her in a tarp and put her into a vehicle parked out front.

“A couple of hours later” the three returned to Ferry’s home and “they all had blood on their clothing,” the witness told police. Daniel then bragged about how Anne had decided to go “swimming” and that “she put up one hell of a fight,” according to the search warrant.

Ferry is currently serving one to 15 years at a maximum-security Draper prison for an unrelated kidnapping. Vehekite, who remains in the Davis County jail on a federal hold, has declined requests for an interview. Daniel Ferry said Vehekite was one of his best friends.

When police found Anne, her face was so badly beaten she was nearly unrecognizable and investigators had to use scars, clothing and cosmetic dentistry to identify her, according to search warrants. One of her fingernails was pushed back and she appeared to have defensive wounds on her hands, the warrant shows. Investigators hoped some of the killer’s DNA was left on Anne’s hands during the struggle, the warrants state.

But they have not disclosed whether they obtained any usable forensic evidence.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said he is not going to speculate on who was or was not arrested, noting that the case had never been formally screened for charges.

“[It’s] not a question of simply arresting people,” Gill said. “It is making sure the people you arrest can be appropriately charged with the evidence you have.”

As Anne’s family waits for answers, Veronica Kasprzak said their focus has shifted. Anne dreamed of her Sweet 16. Of starting to date. Of going to college, getting married and having children of her own.

But she’ll never have the chance to fulfill any of those dreams. Nothing will bring her back.

“At this point it’s not about justice,” she said. “Anne doesn’t get to come home regardless of what happens.”

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Draper police at 801-840-4000.

jstecklein@sltrib.com

Twitter @sltribjanelle