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(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Authorities with West Valley City and the Weber County Sheriff’s Office were involved in a "body recovery" effort near Snowbasin Resort on Tuesday, January 7, 2014. The body is that of a male who was reported missing in December, according to West Valley City Deputy Chief Mike Powell (center). Powell declined to give additional information about the deceased person, or say what led officers to the Snowbasin location.The snow — up to 6 feet at the location in question — was making the body recovery difficult.
Body in Weber County belonged to man murdered over drugs
First Published Jan 09 2014 08:49 pm • Last Updated Jan 09 2014 11:09 pm

A body recovered Tuesday in Weber County has been identified as belonging to a South Salt Lake man who police say was kidnapped and murdered for a drug debt.

Police found the body of 34-year-old Cleat Aaron Knight buried beneath six feet of snow near Snowbasin Resort on Tuesday morning. At the time, police did not provide any information about the identity of the body.

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But by Thursday night, the state medical examiner had confirmed that the body belonged to Knight. Police say Knight was killed by Christopher Leech, 35, Viliamu Seumanu, 42, Tina Maxine Soules, 41, and Theron Myore, 42.

West Valley City Deputy Chief Mike Powell said police believe they have the "primary" suspects in the case, though he did not rule out the possibility of more arrests.

According to West Valley City police, Knight disappeared Nov. 23. His family reported him missing Dec. 8, and soon South Salt Lake and West Valley City police were investigating the case.

Officers eventually concluded that a group of people decided to kidnap Knight because he owed money for drugs. The planned kidnapping began in West Valley City, continued to South Salt Lake and finally ended up in Weber County. At some point, Knight was shot, an autopsy revealed.

Powell said the investigation into Knight’s disappearance led police to his body Tuesday. Powell did not say how long the body had been lying in the snow, but he did point out that Knight had been missing since November. Knight’s body was frozen when investigators discovered it, Powell added. He did not provide additional details about Knights gunshot wounds.

Powell also did not say more about the connection between the suspects and Knight, citing the ongoing nature of the investigation.

The four suspects were arrested and charged Wednesday. Leech and Seumanu were charged with murder and two counts of aggravated kidnapping, all first-degree felonies, as well as one count of obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony. Soules and Myore faces the same charges, minus the single count of obstruction of justice.

Court records show that all four suspects have criminal histories dating back to the 1990s.


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Powell praised the collaborative efforts of police in West Valley, South Salt Lake and Weber County.

jdalrymple@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jimmycdii



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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