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Police investigating alleged kidnapping at Sandy cemetery

Police investigating alleged kidnapping at Sandy cemetery

(Salt Lake County Jail)

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SANDY — Police were attempting Tuesday to sort out the details and verify stories in the case of an alleged kidnapping over the weekend that was thwarted by an officer who saw the alleged victim mouth the word "help."

Umar Hayat Raja, 35, of Sandy, was arrested Saturday and booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of aggravated kidnapping, aggravated robbery, drug possession and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Sandy Police Sgt. Jason Nielsen said a man claimed he was "grieving" at Larkin Cemetery, 1950 E. Dimple Dell Road, between 12:30 a.m. and 1 a.m. Saturday when Raja approached him and demanded at knifepoint that he load his bicycle into the back of his car and drive him around.

As they were driving, Raja "kept gloating that he has killed before" and threatened to stab the man, according to a Salt Lake County Jail report.

The two drove to the parking lot at Jordan Commons, 9335 S. State, where the man told police Raja demanded that they switch seats so Raja could drive, Nielsen said. Raja then drove erratically and nearly hit a police patrol car, he said.

The officer pulled up next to the vehicle, and the man mouthed or quietly said "help me" to the officer, Nielsen said. The officer followed the vehicle and stopped Raja without incident when he pulled into a gas station, Nielsen said.

Investigators found a knife in Raja's backpack and drugs hidden in a sock, according to the jail report.

At the time, Raja declined to speak to investigators unless his lawyer was present, Nielsen said. Detectives hoped to talk to Raja soon to get his side of the story about what unfolded, he said.

Until then, the case will be "investigated as it was reported," Nielsen said.

Court records show a man filed for a protective order against Raja on Friday. It was not immediately known whether the same man was the victim of Saturday's alleged kidnapping.

Court records also list Raja's last known address as being close to the cemetery.

Raja was charged with aggravated assault in April and had a warrant out for his arrest for failing to appear in court when Sandy police picked him up, according to court records. He was also charged in December with assault in a domestic violence-related case, but the case was later dismissed, court records state.

In 2014, Raja was convicted in separate cases of drug possession and theft, and he was ordered to undergo drug treatment and domestic violence counseling, court records state.


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Pat Reavy


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