Prosecutors in Emery County filed murder charges on Friday in a case of a body found in a ghost town in the San Rafael Swell.
Court records say a gas field worker on May 2 found the body of William Randy Jones, 61, in the Mohrland area. According to a news release from the Emery County Sheriff’s Office, it was later determined Jones died of blunt force trauma.
Prosecutors Friday filed charges of first-degree felony murder in state court in Castle Dale against Brandon Michael Samples, 37. He also was charged with three counts of obstruction of justice and a count of desecration of a body. Samples was taken into custody shortly after the discovery of the body, the news release said. At the time, Samples had been on parole for an unrelated matter.
Samples was returned to the Utah State Prison and remained there as of Friday, according to the sheriff’s office. He has not entered a plea, and does not yet have an attorney, according to charging documents.
Search warrants filed to investigate Jones’ death describe a violent scene with baseball bats, a knife and saws.
On April 28, Samples and his girlfriend, Anna Brewer, went to see Jones at a motel in Price where Jones was living at the time, a search warrant said. Jones decided to join the couple on a drive and the three got into Brewer’s 2007 Pontiac G6.
The drive took them to a rural road near the ghost town of Mohrland. They got out of the car to hunt for rocks, Brewer later told detectives from the Emery County Sheriff’s Office.
Brewer also told detectives that when she, Jones and Samples "got out of the car, she walked away from the car to start hunting. A short time later, she heard William yelling.
“She turned around and shined her flashlight toward the direction of the sound. She witnessed Brandon hitting William with a baseball bat.”
Samples used two baseball bats — the first one broke — to beat and kill Jones; then he left him on the ground, the search warrant cites Brewer as saying. Brewer also told detectives that she and Samples returned to the body the next day.
Another search warrant cites Brewer as saying Samples used a knife to cut off Jones’ ring finger to take the ring he was wearing. Samples also tried to cut up the body, she said, but two saws he tried to use broke. The documents don’t specify what kind of saws they were or how they broke.
Jones had been reported missing by the time the gas worker found him. Detectives spoke with a woman who had been with Jones, Samples and Brewer at the motel.
Detectives and a parole agent found Samples and Brewer at her home in Huntington. The girlfriend began telling detectives what happened, the search warrant said. She pleaded guilty on Thursday to one count of obstruction of justice, a crime that carries up to 15 years in prison.
None of the documents available Friday specify why Samples would have killed Jones.
Samples has been in and out of prison for a variety of crimes since 2005, according to court records. Utah Department of Corrections spokeswoman Kaitlin Felsted said Samples’ current sentences are due to expire in November 2026.