Almost 16 months after a woman was shot to death in her car in Millcreek, two people have been charged with the crime.
James Dakota Brunson, 24, and Anika Celeste Thorpe, 23, were each charged in 3rd District Court with the March 11, 2020 killing of Linda Nemelka, 57, which police believe was an attempted robbery gone wrong.
On that date, a report of gunshots brought Unified police to 4586 S. Red Sage Court. When officers arrived, they found a car with its engine running in the driveway, and 57-year-old Linda Nemelka slouched unconscious over the car’s center console. She had been shot — in the chest and in the thigh — and was pronounced dead after she was taken to a hospital.
Several neighbors reported hearing a gunshot and seeing a dark SUV speed away after the shooting.
Eleven months later, on Feb. 9, Unified police detectives were contacted by an informant who told them that Brunson and Thorpe were staying at his apartment at the time of the shooting. According to police, the informant said he gave Brunson money to buy drugs, and Brunson called him later that night to say he was late and to watch the news about a shooting in Millcreek.
At that point, detectives located a report about the March 8, 2020, theft of a maroon Toyota Sequoia in American Fork. They also found a police report from March 10, 2020, in which Thorpe’s mother reported that her daughter and Brunson had come to her home in a red Sequoia and stole more than seven guns and ammunition.
On March 12, 2020, officers from the Utah County Major Crimes Task Force had found Brunson and Thorpe in the stolen Sequoia in West Jordan. According to the charges, Brunson tried to run from officers and threw away a handgun he had tucked in his waistband — a 9 mm Ruger that ballistics later matched to the bullet that killed Nemelka.
Prosecutors say Brunson messaged another person on Facebook on March 11, 2020, according to the charges, indicating he had 10 guns in the car he was driving and that “the one you want is burnt.” According to police, “burnt” is slang that means a gun used in a crime.
Brunson and Thrope have each been charged with murder and aggravated robbery, first-degree felonies; and possession of a firearm by a restricted person, a second-degree felony. They are both being held without bail.