A woman — who twice denied knowing anything about the disappearance of two missing Juab teens, but then led police to an abandoned mine shaft that contained their bodies last week — is facing two counts of obstructing justice.
Morgan Reannon Henderson, 34, was charged Thursday in 4th District Court with the two second-degree felonies, one for each of the teens. Her boyfriend, 41-year-old Jerrod Baum, is charged with their murder.
In a probable cause statement, police say Henderson feels partly responsible for the deaths of 18-year-old Riley Powell and 17-year-old Brelynne “Breezy” Otteson and is afraid Baum may still be able to hurt her and her family, despite his being incarcerated.
Before Henderson invited Riley over to smoke marijuana on the night of Dec. 29, Baum had allegedly told Henderson she should not have male friends.
But that night, Henderson communicated with Riley via Facebook Messenger, court documents say, and the teen agreed to meet at her Juab County home at midnight to smoke marijuana.
Riley and Breezy, his girlfriend, both of Eureka, came to the house that Henderson shared with Baum in Mammoth shortly after midnight, according to documents.
In the early hours of Dec. 30, Baum came home “upset” that the teens had visited Henderson.
When Baum found out about the teens’ visit, he told Henderson it was “too bad because he has never killed an innocent before,” documents say.
Baum allegedly tied up the two teens, placed duct tape over their mouths and drove them, along with Henderson, to the mine shaft in Riley’s Jeep.
There, Baum allegedly killed the teens with a knife and dumped their bodies into the shaft, where police recovered them March 28. After the incident, Baum threatened Henderson with strangulation and the two ditched Riley’s Jeep in a remote area near Cherry Creek Reservoir. Police found the vehicle there Jan. 11.
Family members reported Riley and Breezy missing on Jan. 2, and police interviewed Henderson and Baum together at their home for the first time Jan. 9. At that time, Henderson and Baum denied knowing anything about the teens’ disappearance.
Sometime after the interview, police recovered the Facebook Messenger conversation between Henderson and Riley and spoke with her again on Jan. 25. This time, Henderson was interviewed alone inside a deputy’s vehicle, as Baum watched from outside.
During this interview, Henderson initially denied knowing about the teens’ disappearance, but when police “confronted” her about the Facebook messages, Henderson said the teens had come over to her house for about 40 minutes that night and then left, according to documents. She told police she didn’t know where Riley and Breezy went after they left.
Then, on March 25, Henderson was pulled over for speeding and booked into the Sanpete County jail for charges in an unrelated incident.
During subsequent interviews with police, Henderson described the details of Riley and Breezy’s deaths and led police to the 1,800-foot mine shaft northeast of Eureka. The teens’ bodies had landed on a ledge about 100 feet down and were recovered by police.
Henderson’s description of the homicides indicated that “she had in fact been present when they were killed,” documents say, but police believe it is “unlikely that she alone could have accomplished the kidnapping and murder of the victims,” including inflicting the injuries found on Riley’s body.
The state of Riley and Breezy’s bodies and injuries matched the description Henderson gave police, and an autopsy confirmed their identities.
Henderson feels “responsible for the death of Riley and Brelynne because she invited them over and did not come forward sooner with what she knew,” according to a probable cause statement.
“She feels partly at fault for what occurred” and “is finding it hard to live with the gravity of the situation,” documents say.
Police also note that Henderson is worried about Baum’s ability to hurt her and her family “even though he is incarcerated.” Henderson has made statements indicating a “concern” that she will harm herself, flee or be killed if she is released from law enforcement custody.
In addition to two counts of aggravated murder — for which prosecutors could seek the death penalty — Baum is also charged with two counts of kidnapping, two counts of abuse or desecration of a body, one count each of obstructing justice and one count of being a felon in possession of a dangerous weapon.
Baum is set to appear in 4th District Court on April 26 for a scheduling hearing. He is being held without bail at the Utah County jail.
Henderson is also being held in the Utah County jail in lieu of $100,000, cash-only bail. She was scheduled to make her initial appearance in court at 3 p.m. Thursday.