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Utah County Sheriff's Office

Police: Man threatens teen over game of Battleship

By Faith Heaton Jolley | Posted - Nov. 10, 2014 at 10:55 p.m.



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UTAH COUNTY — A man was arrested after deputies tracked several 911 calls using GPS and found him fighting with a teen Saturday evening, according to the Utah County Sheriff’s Office.

The incident occurred around 8 p.m. at Lebaron Point near Lincoln Beach Road, according to a probable cause statement. Dispatch received several 911 calls around 8 p.m., but the caller didn’t respond to dispatchers and the call was dropped several times, the sheriff’s department said. Dispatchers said they heard a possible fight between a male and female and deputies traced the call to a campsite with a truck and trailer.

When deputies arrived at the scene, they heard yelling and a pounding noise from inside the trailer, according to the statement. Deputies found John Valenzuela, 68, and a 17-year-old female inside the trailer.

During the investigation, deputies learned that Valenzuela and the teen “were playing a game of Battleship when she accused him of cheating and the two engaged in a verbal argument,” the statement said. During the argument, Valenzuela allegedly prevented the teen from leaving the trailer several times. The 17-year-old told police she hit her head on the wall when he stopped her from leaving and that he threw her on the couch, the statement said.


Most cellphones that are disabled, that don’t have an active account, you can still make an emergency call on it. That’s what this gal did. We’ve used that a lot over the years to help find people who are at risk for harm and to track them down. We’ve had a lot of positive outcomes because of that.

–Sgt. Spencer Cannon, Utah County Sheriff's Office


The teen also attempted to call 911 several times, but Valenzuela “grabbed her wrist and forcefully took the phone from her,” the statement said. The teen told police she eventually made it out of the trailer and began running, but Valenzuela “caught up to her and knocked her to the ground, pushing her face into the rocks before grabbing her by the hair and pulling her back into the trailer,” the statement said.

Deputies located a loaded rifle inside the trailer and the teen told them Valenzuela had pointed it at her and threatened to shoot himself, the statement said. The teen also told deputies Valenzuela allegedly told her he could “break her jaw and bruise her bad.”

A preliminary breath test showed Valenzuela had a blood alcohol content level of .113 during the investigation, deputies said. Valenzuela was arrested and booked into the Utah County Jail on suspicion of aggravated assault, criminal mischief, unlawful detention, damage and interruption of a communication device and intoxication.

Although the teen didn't speak with dispatchers, the 911 calls activated GPS technology and deputies are crediting the technology for the rescue.

“Most cellphones that are disabled, that don’t have an active account, you can still make an emergency call on it,” Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Spencer Cannon said. “That’s what this gal did. We’ve used that a lot over the years to help find people who are at risk for harm and to track them down. We’ve had a lot of positive outcomes because of that.”

Contributing: Peter Samore

Faith Heaton Jolley

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