Police have arrested and charged the boyfriend of a woman found dead in Ogden Canyon last month.
Andy Dame Dennis, 37, is being held without bail at the Weber County Jail. He faces counts for murder, a first degree felony, as well as obstruction of justice and the desecration of a body.
His arrest Wednesday came five weeks after the May 12 discovery of Lopine “Chynna” Toilolo’s body. Members of her family said Wednesday that, for them, it was a time spent desperately asking for help and, at times, searching for clues themselves — but they said they’re happy the man suspected of killing her is now behind bars.
“There’s a lot of frustration as we waited for this, but the outcome that we waited for is finally here,” said Chynna Toilolo’s father, Sefuluai.
The first time Toilolo’s relatives contacted police to report the 30-year-old was missing — when she didn’t arrive home after texting she was on her way — police told them adults are allowed to go missing, they said.
But the family said they knew something was wrong. “We didn’t want to wait. We knew right away that something was out of the normal,” Toilolo’s brother, Sefuluai Jr., told The Salt Lake Tribune last month.
He said Chynna always stayed in contact with family, even if she was upset with them. She was a prolific social media user, too, and her accounts were quiet.
According to Sefuluai Toilolo Jr., the last time anyone talked to her was early May 10, when she texted her mom around 3 a.m. saying she was coming home.
Two days later, deputies responded to reports of a body found near the river in Ogden Canyon.
According to a probable cause statement for Dennis’ arrest, it appears Chynna Toilolo died at a different location and was dragged to that spot. An autopsy concluded she had been strangled.
The Toilolo family wondered last month if anything would have changed had police responded to their early pleas to investigate.
Sefuluai Toilolo Jr. pointed to a 911 call made on the morning Chynna Toilolo disappeared by one of Dennis’ neighbors. Pleasant View police went to ta home near 3000 North Quincy St. around 5 a.m. on May 10 to investigate a report that someone was yelling in the road.
The officer “checked the area,” found no problems, waited a little bit to listen and then left, Chief Ryon Hadley said in an email. He didn’t respond to The Tribune’s follow-up questions.
The probable cause statement says that Chynna Toilolo had been pounding on neighbors’ windows and ringing doorbells for help. They report she then got in Dennis’ car with him.
Dennis, though, told police that Chynna Toilolo had left on her own in an Uber. But one of the neighbors had taken a cellphone photo showing her in Dennis’ car, according to the statement. Dennis then “changed his story and claimed that he did leave the residence with the victim,” but dropped her off at her West Jordan home.
Officers looked at Dennis’ cellphone data, though, and it showed that he was not there when he said he was. It later pinged in Ogden Canyon. And surveillance footage shows him driving there on May 11 and coming back down about two hours later.
The probable cause statement also says that police interviewed Dennis’ two kids. They first supported Dennis’ story, but later told officers that he had told them what to say. They later said that Dennis drove away with Chynna Toilolo after the two had been fighting, adding that he took her phone and hid it in the garage.
Officers say Chynna Toilolo’s phone had been turned off about 5 a.m. on May 10.
On Wednesday, her family stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Weber County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Cortney Ryan, wearing shirts printed with Chynna Toilolo’s face, as he broke the news that Dennis had been arrested.
In his brief remarks, Sefuluai Toilolo Sr. thanked investigators for their work, struggling to speak through his emotions.
“My daughter did not deserve what happened to her,” he said, but added his family felt some solace because they believe Chynna Toilolo is in a better place now.