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Utah man faces 2nd murder charge in ‘purge’ killings; attacks were random, prosecutors say

Christian Taele, 28, was previously charged with murder after a 23-year-old was hanged in Ogden.

(FOX13) Ogden Police Lt. Will Farr addresses reporters at a July 11, 2022, news conference, following the arrest of a 28-year-old man accused of killing a man in Spanish Fork, then another in Ogden.

Prosecutors on Wednesday filed a second murder charge against the 28-year-old Utah man police say admitted to two random “purge” killings earlier this month in Spanish Fork and Ogden.

Christian Taele, 28, was previously charged with murder after a 23-year-old man was hanged in Ogden. The charging documents filed Wednesday give some insight into how the first victim, 49-year-old Ryan Hooley, was killed and allege that — like the 23-year-old victim — Taele and Hooley were strangers.

“Taele stated he did not know Victim but intended to kill him,” according to the documents, filed in 4th District Court.

The documents indicate Hooley was beaten and stabbed to death. Investigators used surveillance footage from a nearby business to determine he was killed just after midnight on July 8. Taele told police that after he killed Tooele, he went home.

(Brittany Hooley) Ryan Hooley, pictured in an undated family photograph, was found dead in Spanish Fork on Friday, July 8, 2022. The man suspected of killing him was charged Wednesday in Hooley's death, and had previously been charged in connection with the death of a second man who was attacked in Ogden on Saturday, July 9, 2022.

Less than 24 hours later, Taele was arrested in Ogden, about 90 miles away. Police found him just after 7 p.m. at an Ogden apartment complex, where he allegedly beat and hanged the 23-year-old victim minutes before police arrived. Ogden police have not released that man’s name or any other identifying details.

In an interview with investigators, Taele said a higher power told him to kill the man that night in Ogden and another man, later identified as Hooley, the day before in Spanish Fork in order to “purge” the cities, police said.

After his arrest, Taele’s sister wrote a letter to a Weber County judge, which stated the family was worried for his mental health.

During a July 21 virtual court hearing, Taele appeared from the Weber County jail’s medical unit. The day before, after speaking with him at the jail, Taele’s defense attorneys Nathan Carroll and Randall Marshall filed a petition to determine Taele’s competency to stand trial. Prosecutors at that hearing had no objections to the filing.

Carroll wrote in the competency petition that Taele told the attorneys that he’d been hearing sounds and voices for days, and that they “seemed to lead him throughout his day.”

“It should also be pointed out that this behavior had been going on for several days and was influential on Mr. Taele’s behaviors that led to his ultimate arrest,” Carroll said.

At the time of the killings, Taele was out of jail on bail for a felony case, after he allegedly spit on a Utah Transit Authority officer on May 18 and knocked a Taser out of another’s hand, court records state. He currently remains in Weber County jail without the option for bail.

His competency review is scheduled for Sept. 8 at 1:30 p.m.