Autopsy: Elderly Murray woman beaten to death before house set afire
Crime • Police believe suspect is the man seen driving 84-year-old victim’s stolen car.
Published: January 29, 2014 07:52AM
Updated: March 25, 2014 02:51PM
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Courtesy | Murray City Police Police are looking for this man, who fled police early Saturday morning. Police tracked down his Murray address, where they found a house on fire and the body of 84-year-old Shirley Sharp. Police are investigating the death as a homicide.

An autopsy has confirmed that an elderly Murray woman, whose body was found Saturday in her burning home, had been beaten to death.

Murray police spokesman Kenny Bass said Tuesday said that the preliminary findings of the autopsy of 84-year-old Shirley Sharp indicated she “died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head.”

Citing the ongoing nature of their investigation, and that a suspect remained at large, police did not provide further details on the case.

Bass did say that detectives had not yet identified the suspect, but the man’s image was caught on video when he was briefly pulled over by a Utah Transit Authority police officer. The suspect — a white, middle-aged man with a beard, wearing blue jeans, an orange vest and a light jacket with a hood — was driving a car later learned to be stolen from the victim.

It appeared that Sharp, who lived alone in her small, red-brick home at 20 E. Winchester St. (6400 South), may have been surprised by an intruder early Saturday morning. He is believed to have then killed her and set a fire, perhaps intent on destroying any evidence.

Sharp was found dead by firefighters about 6 a.m. Police, who had gone to the home after tracing ownership of the suspicious car which UTA had stopped the car about half an hour earlier, noticed smoke coming from her house and called for firefighters.

Sharp’s car, a Buick LeSabre, had been stopped by the UTA officer for driving in a restricted bus lane near 75 W. Cottonwood Street (about 4900 South). After briefly exiting the vehicle, the driver got back in and drove away. The UTA officer got the license plate number from the car and tracked its registration to Sharp.

The car was found abandoned near 4800 S. 500 West around noon Saturday.

Anyone with information is urged to call Murray police at 801-840-4000.

remims@sltrib.com