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'Person of interest' in Uintah County homicide is back in Utah

Published April 25, 2013 6:56 pm

Crime • Fugitive, who was found in victim's car, awaiting rape trial in July.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The fugitive who authorities are calling a "person of interest" in the murder of a Roosevelt man was back in Utah on Thursday.

Jesse Anthony Saenz, 24, was already a wanted man after he allegedly skipped bail in Vernal, where he was awaiting trial for rape.

After he was arrested in Arizona on Wednesday, Saenz waived extradition on the 8th District Court rape-related warrant, was brought back Thursday and booked into Uintah County jail.

Meanwhile, the Uintah County Sheriff's Office continues to investigate what connection, if any, he has to the murder of Elvis Zachary Olsen.

Olsen, 22 was found shot to death Sunday near Fort Duchesne on the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation, and his 2011 Mazda 3S was gone. When Uintah County Sheriff Jeff Merrell and a detective caught up to Saenz in Arizona on Wednesday, they say they found him behind the wheel of the Olsen's Mazda.

No charges have been filed against Saenz related to Olsen's death or his car. But the sheriff's office hopes to have a report for the Uintah County Attorney's Office by the end of next week.

On Tuesday, 8th District Judge Clark McCellan issued an arrest warrant for Saenz after learning he had cut off his ankle monitor and absconded. Saenz was awaiting a July trial on charges of aggravated sexual assault, aggravated kidnapping, forcible sodomy, object rape and forcible sexual abuse, all first-degree felonies.

Charges state that Saenz followed a woman home on a shuttle bus from a nightclub early the morning of June 10, 2012. Once they both got off the bus, he punched her twice and dragged her across a street to a spot outside an apartment complex, where he raped her and broke her cellphone, charges state.

Undersheriff John Laursen said this week that detectives were looking into what connection Saenz may have had with Olsen, who was a convicted sex offender. Both were believed to be in the Uintah County Jail at the same time, but they did not share a cell, Laursen said.

Investigators also plan to inspect the Mazda.

mmcfall@sltrib.com

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