A 15-year-old Vernal boy was charged Thursday with aggravated murder in Utah’s 8th District Juvenile Court. He is accused of breaking into a stranger’s home and stabbing three people — killing one — and bragging about the crime to friends after.
The teen also faces two charges of attempted aggravated murder and a count of aggravated burglary.
Charging documents allege the youth climbed through a window of a Vernal home in the early hours of Sept. 13, when an elderly couple and their adult son were sleeping.
As the teen broke in, 84-year-old Cal Dee Reynolds woke up, saw the teen and “verbally confronted him,” charges state.
The 15-year-old then stabbed Reynolds with a knife multiple times. As the man called out for help, his son woke up and tried to come to his father’s aid.
“Before help could be rendered, the defendant blindsided the second victim, attacking him with a knife and stabbing him multiple times,” Uintah County Attorney Gregory Lamb wrote in charging documents. “The first and second victim being down, the defendant then entered a bedroom where he found the elderly wife of [Reynolds] and proceeded to pull her from the bed and subsequently stabbed her several times.”
Vernal police identified the other two stabbing victims as Kyle Reynolds and Kathy Reynolds. They were treated at a local hospital, and Cal Dee Reynolds was flown by medical helicopter to another hospital. He died Nov. 3, according to his obituary.
A police detective wrote in a search warrant affidavit filed in late September that the teen suspect had bragged about stabbing “the old man” to some friends who had allegedly burglarized another home with him in late September.
In that case, police say the 15-year-old and two or three others knocked on the door of a home on Sept. 21 and pushed their way inside when a woman answered. The 15-year-old allegedly helped hold two women down and demanded money from them. Two women eventually escaped and screamed for help, and a neighbor called police. Charging documents also allege the 15-year-old grabbed another woman in the home and injured her by dragging her down some stairs.
Police initially had been looking at other suspects in Reynolds’ death, according to various search warrant affidavits filed in court, but zeroed in on the youth after his purported confession to his friends.
Prosecutors were required to file charges in juvenile court because of the teen’s age, but they can ask for a judge to move the case to the adult court. In the juvenile system, the 15-year-old would face a maximum penalty of a stay in a secure care facility until he turns 21. If the case is moved to adult court and he is convicted, he would face the same penalty there as if he were an adult — a term of up to life in prison.
Aggravated murder charges typically carry the possibility of the death penalty, but the teen cannot face execution because of his age.
It’s not clear whether prosecutors will seek to try him as an adult, and the Uintah County attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Salt Lake Tribune generally does not identify juveniles accused of crimes, unless they have been certified to stand trial as an adult.
The teen has been behind bars since September, according to police. Juvenile court documents say he is also facing multiple charges, including aggravated robbery and aggravated kidnapping, in connection to the Sept. 21 event.