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Father seeks answers in daughter's fatal shooting in robbery case

Published January 11, 2013 8:48 am

Scott Simons is not sure why police believe slain woman committed series of robberies.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

Scott Simons can't reconcile the beloved daughter he knew with the cold, calculating serial robber she is portrayed as by police.

Kelly Fay Simons, 38, was shot and killed on Wednesday by police, who suspect her of committing a series of armed robberies in the Salt Lake Valley.

"She's a loving girl," Scott Simons told The Salt Lake Tribune on Thursday. "She was at Bible study last Wednesday. Now she's dead. My heart's broken. It's hard not to keep crying."

The daughter Simons knew refused to hurt any living thing, even making him drive miles out of his way to release varmints captured in traps. He said he bought Simons a .22-caliber revolver as a gift, but said that other than target shooting, Kelly couldn't bear to use it.

But police say Kelly Simons exchanged gunfire with a Murray officer following a Saturday armed robbery, and days later attempted to run down a Joint Criminal Apprehension Team (JCAT) officer with her pickup truck. That final alleged act of violence prompted officers to shoot her to death.

Scott Simons said his daughter spent her days painting murals, and supported herself by doing odd jobs for friends and by renting out herhome. But police said that since mid-December they suspect Kelly earned her income by robbing as many as nine businesses with alleged accomplice 40-year-old Sandra Chotia-Thompson, who was arrested Wednesday night.

"We don't understand why she would be a suspect in robberies," Simons said of his daughter. "It's not like she didn't have money."

He said his daughter had a credit card limit of more than $7,000, she owned her own home and car and had family and friends who loved her and would have done anything to help.

"It doesn't add up to the person we know," the father said. "We don't understand why a person who has money, a house, a car would be doing such a thing."

Simons said just before a JCAT officer fatally shot her, Kelly had purchased $191 in groceries from Smith's. She was in her friends' neighborhood, near 800 East and 900 South, when she encountered the JCAT officers, he said.

Those friends called him Wednesday afternoon to tell him that there had been a shooting and his daughter's truck had been involved.

He said he rushed to the scene in hopes of getting answers.

"I just want to know the truth," he said, insisting his daughter was unarmed when she was shot. "My daughter was a loving girl and she wouldn't hurt anything."

He acknowledged that his daughter had problems with drugs in the past but said she's since cleaned up her life and has been under a doctor's care for several years. She saw her doctor as recently as Friday, and the doctor refilled a prescription.

The father said Kelly had known Chotia-Thompson for a long time,but as far as he knew, the two women had been estranged.

"We didn't really like her that much," he said of Chotia-Thompson. "She was trouble in our opinion. But Kelly helped troubled people. She was a Christian woman."

jstecklein@sltrib.com

Twitter @sltribjanelle