A West Valley City man arrested and accused last month of kidnapping and torturing his wife is now suspected of brutally killing his grandmother, whose body has not been found, according to charging documents filed Wednesday.
The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s office charged Garman Shaun Cunningham on Wednesday with one count each of aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping and obstructing justice; two counts of aggravated assault; and three counts of illegal discharge of a firearm.
The case originated on Nov. 12, when Cunningham’s wife called 911 from a neighbor’s home on South Greenmont Drive after escaping her husband, she told police.
The woman told officers that Cunningham had beaten her and held her hostage since Nov. 1. Officers noted that she had marks all over her body, “including head wounds, cuts, open sores, and what appeared to be healing burns,” charging documents state.
Throughout her captivity, Cunningham had handcuffed her to a rocking chair, cut her with knives and broken glass and burned her with cigarettes, she told police. He also choked her multiple times and threatened her with a gun, she said.
She told officers that Cunningham was still inside their home, where he had killed his 99-year-old grandmother, charging documents state.
Documents describe brutal killing
When West Valley City police arrived at the couple’s home, they heard three shots fired inside over a 30-minute period, as well as windows breaking and large objects being moved around within, charging documents state. Cunningham eventually ran outside with a sword and was apprehended by a police K-9.
His wife, who was not named in the documents, was taken to a hospital, where she described the grandmother’s killing.
Cunningham had first attempted to smother his grandmother with a pillow, she said. She described seeing the older woman’s skull “caved in” after Cunningham then beat her with his fists, the documents state.
Cunningham then dragged his grandmother out of bed and down a hallway — her arm still tangled in her walker, the documents state. He then threw her down a flight of stairs, his wife told police.
At the top of the stairs, Cunningham then punched and choked his wife before heading downstairs, where his wife said he told his grandmother, “You’re not dead yet,” court documents state. Cunningham then picked her up, carried her back up the stairs and threw her down a second time.
He then stabbed his grandmother in the neck with a broken piece of her walker, and, when he realized she was still alive, he threw her down another set of stairs to a basement, his wife told police.
Cunningham then ordered his wife to check on his grandmother in the basement, she told police. The grandmother’s face was swollen and bruised, she said. The wife then threatened to call the police, at which point Cunningham threatened to kill her, the documents state.
A bit later, after the wife had retreated upstairs, Cunningham then stabbed his grandmother in the chest with a steak knife, he later told his wife. The wife could hear him wrapping his grandmother’s body in plastic and tape in the garage.
Cunningham then drove up a mountain, where he dumped his grandmother’s body off the side of a road, “rolling her body down an incline in hopes nobody would see her,” the documents state.
Tracking data from Cunningham’s phone shows that his phone was taken to the area of Kamas, Utah, near SR-150 on Nov. 2, documents state. The grandmother’s body had not been located as of Wednesday.
Blood found throughout the home
Cunningham did not allow his wife to eat while he held her captive, she told detectives, noting that she lost nearly 30 pounds throughout the ordeal, charging documents state.
Her husband had also forced her to clean up large quantities of blood at the house and to act as a lookout for police. Forensic investigators found evidence of large quantities of blood at the base of the stairs, in the downstairs laundry room and in the garage, the documents state.
While serving a search warrant at the home, officers found that all of the furniture and carpeting in the grandmother’s room had been removed. They also found ammunition, spent cartridge casings, handcuffs, knives, swords and two firearms inside the home, the documents state.
In trash cans and a dumpster outside, investigators found a bedding, carpeting, clothing, cleaning supplies, a shower curtain and a broken walker, among other items. All were covered in blood, forensic investigators found. A forensic analysis matched samples of the blood evidence to a DNA profile of Cunningham’s grandmother.
Cunningham is being held without bail at the Salt Lake County Jail. A court hearing in the case is slated for Friday.