A Utah man was charged Tuesday in connection with the five-day disappearance of a Snow College student.
Brent Neil Brown, 39, faces six felony counts in the case, including obstruction of justice, aggravated kidnapping and three first-degree charges related to sexual assault, including rape.
A judge on Wednesday ordered Brown be denied bail because of a “concern about public safety,” and because there was a prior warrant for Brown’s arrest for allegedly failing to attend a court hearing in an unrelated felony case.
Police arrested Brown on Saturday at a home in Loa at the center of Wayne County — about 90 miles south of the Snow College campus in Ephraim. He told the court the home belongs to his parents and “that is where all this took place.”
According to a probable cause statement from police, the man connected with the 19-year-old Snow College student in an online group chat and arranged to pick her up from her dorm on Dec. 13 — the last time she was reported being seen. He then drove her to his house, the statement said.
The woman’s roommates reported the student missing after she didn’t return the next day. Local, state and federal law enforcement officers became involved in the search for the missing teen.
The Salt Lake Tribune generally does not name sexual assault victims. Although the student’s name was released during the search, she has asked not to be identified in ongoing coverage.
The man allegedly became violent with her after they got to his house, according to court documents.
Brown allegedly took the student’s phone, allowing her time only to text her family once on the morning of Dec. 14, court documents state.
The probable cause statement alleges the man tied up the student while he was at work, threw her phone away when he discovered police were searching for her and threatened to injure or kill her family if she tried to leave.
During the search, police used cellphone tower information to find where the woman’s phone last showed a location, which was in Loa, according to court documents.
Law enforcement officials conducted a search through the small central Utah town of about 500 people. As police came to a house on Main Street, they saw a person matching the student’s description in the window of a basement, the charging documents state.
Brown answered the door and told police he was alone in the house, according to the documents. Police later searched the home and found the student’s ID sitting out, along with a gun.
They then found the woman in a basement coal room, covered in coal, the documents state.
On Saturday night, the school and the student’s family reported that the woman had been found.
Brown joined Wednesday’s court appearance via video from the Sevier County jail. He told 6th District Judge Wallace A. Lee that he didn’t have a consistent job and couldn’t afford an attorney. Lee appointed attorney Michael Labrum.
Brown’s next court date is scheduled for Jan. 10.
— Reporter Paighten Harkins contributed to this story.