Days after they killed a man in Colorado, court documents say, a married couple looked for someone to carjack at the University of Utah.
Austin and Kathleen Boutain staked out a dirt parking lot in Red Butte Canyon. Kathleen Boutain left, documents say, because her husband “took too long to find and kill a victim.”
Then 23-year-old ChenWei Guo and a woman passenger drove by. Police and prosecutors say Austin Boutain shot and killed Guo and fired bullets at the passenger.
Salt Lake County prosecutors on Thursday charged Austin Boutain, 24, in 3rd District Court with aggravated murder as well as attempted murder, kidnapping, robbery and 10 other felonies. If convicted on the murder charge, he could face the death penalty.
Kathleen Boutain could face up to life in prison if convicted. She was charged Thursday with three counts of first-degree felony criminal solicitation and three counts of second-degree theft. She is being held at the Salt Lake County jail in lieu of $1 million cash-only bail. Her husband is being held without bail.
The couple may also face charges in Colorado. After he was arrested Oct. 31 at the Salt Lake City Main Library, Boutain admitted to the Colorado man’s homicide and told police about what happened over the week.
Police and prosecutors recounted those statements in court documents from Colorado and Utah and made them public Thursday.
The Boutains had been living in a tent under a bridge in Golden, Colo., for a week or two in mid- to late-October. They met 63-year-old Mitchell Bradford Ingle, who was staying in a trailer at the Clear Creek RV Park.
On Oct. 27, the Boutains walked by Ingles’ trailer and offered to share marijuana and a stolen bottle of cinnamon whiskey with Ingle, to whom Austin Boutain previously sold marijuana, a police affidavit states. The three smoked and drank together in the trailer. Boutain later told police that Ingle kept making sexual comments to Kathleen Boutain.
After Ingle went to bed, the affidavit states, the Boutains talked about robbing him. Their original plan was to kill Ingle with a crossbow while he slept. Austin Boutain shot a bolt at Ingle, who was asleep, but the bolt didn’t penetrate his skin. It did wake Ingle, who got out of bed, according to the affidavit. Austin Boutain said he had “just tapped him on the hand to ask about something in the bathroom,” the affidavit states.
When Ingle went into the bathroom, Austin Boutain got his knife and cut Ingle’s throat, the affidavit alleges.
The couple originally planned to take the trailer but decided it was too bloody. And, they told police, they didn’t know how to attach it to the truck. They reportedly stole Ingle’s green pickup truck, three guns, blankets, clothes, food and money. Kathleen Boutain stole a bottle of prescription medication. Austin Boutain’s own shirt was bloody, so he put on Ingle’s clothes and shoes.
The Boutains drove Ingle’s truck toward Salt Lake City, an area they were familiar with, according to police.
On the way, they picked up another couple at an “unknown truck stop,” according to the arrest warrant affidavit, then gave the couple the truck when they got to Salt Lake City.
Police later found the truck in Rawlins, Wyo. The couple who were found in it said they’d received the truck from “AJ and Katie in Salt Lake County,” documents state.
In Salt Lake City, Austin Boutain traded one of the guns, a .38-caliber handgun, for an ounce of marijuana.
The couple set up camp in Red Butte Canyon. They both wanted to leave Utah, so they planned to kidnap someone in Red Butte Canyon and drive to Tennessee, bringing the victim. They wanted to use the victim’s money and credit cards to buy food, fuel and supplies, court documents state. Once they reached Tennessee, they planned to kill the victim and destroy or hide the vehicle. Alternatively, they considered killing the victim in Red Butte Canyon and taking the vehicle, they told police.
He contacted several people looking for someone to kill or kidnap, he told police. According to Austin Boutain’s confession to police, both he and Kathleen Boutain went to an area overlooking a dirt parking lot in Red Butte Canyon and ”discussed the different people and vehicles they observed.” He told police she would point out a vehicle and victim for him to attack.
At one point, Kathleen Boutain told her husband to keep looking for a victim while she packed up camp, documents state. He agreed on a subject multiple times but hesitated when other vehicles or people arrived. He didn’t want witnesses and was hesitant to kill someone during the day, according to court documents.
As the day went on, Kathleen Boutain got irritated that it was taking her husband so long to kill a victim. She implied that “Austin was a coward,” documents state, and they got into a physical confrontation before she left.
At 8 p.m., she told University of Utah police that Austin Boutain had killed someone, had pistol-whipped her with one of his two guns and would kill someone to get a vehicle, court documents state.
Back at the canyon, a car arrived at the parking lot.
Austin Boutain approached it, reportedly with the intention of asking whether its occupants had seen Kathleen Boutain. He said he knocked on the window several times to no response and then yelled. The driver started to make a U-turn.
Enraged, Austin Boutain fired a handgun at the driver’s side window, police documents say. He shot at the car five times.
Austin Boutain retrieved his and his wife’s possessions and returned to the car, intending to steal it when he heard a female voice, according to court documents.
Guo’s friend was still in the car, talking to a dispatch operator. Boutain later told police he “walked up the hill and sat down for a few minutes before deciding to return to the vehicle and kill the female,” documents state.
He opened the passenger-side door, told her to turn off the phone and get out of the car. The woman did and threw her phone on the ground. As he bent down to turn off the phone, she ran away.
Austin Boutain — who said he’d intended to take her to the foothills to kill her — shot at her and missed, documents state.
After a U. police officer reported hearing gunshots from Red Butte Canyon at 8:32 p.m., the university was put on lockdown, which ended at 3 a.m. At least eight agencies — including the FBI — and hundreds of officers from across the valley looked for Austin Boutain in the foothills and the campus.
While officers searched the foothills, Austin Boutain crawled north of police containment. He made his way through the Avenues, police believe, to downtown.
Police found the couple’s camp, along with a rifle — which police later learned was stolen from Ingle’s trailer. Austin Boutain hid the third firearm, a .44-caliber handgun believed to have been used to kill Guo, in a crevice near a Salt Lake City homeless shelter. Police have not found the .44-caliber gun he hid.
Police called off the manhunt after 14 hours.
Just over 30 minutes later, Austin Boutain walked into the Salt Lake City Main Library. A librarian on the third floor recognized him and security guards took him into custody in a bathroom at 1:10 p.m.
Golden police officers found Ingle dead inside his trailer at the RV park Oct. 31, after Salt Lake City police asked them to check on the owner of the pickup truck.
At the time of the shooting, Austin Boutain was on probation for felony convictions, according to court documents. He was convicted of a class C felony for not registering as a sex offender and was granted probation in November 2015. He was also convicted of stealing a motor vehicle, a Class B felony, and was granted probation in February 2017.