Man charged in Salt Lake motel killing

Man charged in Salt Lake motel killing

(Salt Lake County Jail)

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SALT LAKE CITY — A man was charged with murder Monday in the death of a woman whose body was found in a Salt Lake motel room last month.

Joshua Valasi Saunders, 37, who is listed in court documents as a transient, was charged in 3rd District Court with the first-degree felony, in addition to obstructing justice and possession of a weapon by a restricted person, both second-degree felonies. Bail has been set at $1 million.

The body of Mechelle Lindberg, 25, of Pleasant Grove, was found Nov. 28 at the Gateway Inn, 819 W. North Temple. She died of a gunshot wound to the head, charges state.

Police announced a few days later that the main suspect in the case was in custody on a parole violation, but declined to release his name at that time while officers continued to search for others who were in the hotel room.

Detectives watched the motel's surveillance video and observed Saunders enter the room at 6:33 a.m. Twenty-two minutes later, Lindberg entered the room, charges state. Just 23 minutes after that, Saunders and another man are seen on the video leaving the room "and appear to be visibly shaken," according to the charges.

About 8:20 a.m., the video captures Saunders putting a bag in the motel dumpster, charges state. Investigators later found a gun in that dumpster.

Police were called at 8:44 a.m., and Saunders was arrested less than 30 minutes later, according to the charges.

A motive for the shooting was not revealed in court documents. Both Saunders and Lindberg have documented drug-related histories.


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Pat Reavy is a longtime police and courts reporter. He joined the team in 2021, after many years of reporting at the Deseret News and KSL NewsRadio before that.


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