WEST JORDAN — A homeowner shot and killed a 23-year-old woman who broke into his West Jordan home at dawn Friday, police said.
Investigators identified the woman as Makayla Yeaman but have not said why they believe she entered the house of the family she didn't know.
A 26-year-old man inside the home, 6846 W. 7605 South, heard the garage door opening and dogs barking about 5:30 a.m. and brought a gun to investigate.
Detectives don't know what type of exchange the two had before the gunfire or how many times Yeaman was shot, said West Jordan police officer Scott List. He said he did not know if the woman was armed.
"We don't know why she targeted that house, that particular area," List added. He also said detectives were not sure if she acted alone or with others.
“It appears she was able to get the garage door opener from the truck that was parked outside,” List said. The woman reportedly made it past the interior garage door and into a second room before she was confronted by the homeowner.
Yeaman was released from prison in September 2017 after serving a sentence for drug and theft cases. She received her adult high school diploma two years ago through an education program for inmates, she told KSL at the time of her graduation.
She planned to continue her education, focusing on history and government, and wanted to polish her sign language, she said. Even though her convictions could make life difficult, she said she was optimistic.
"There's more to life than drugs and violence. I want to help people," she said at the time.
Yeaman was charged less than a month ago with possession of a controlled substance, a class A misdemeanor, after Utah Transit Authority police reported finding her with a baggie of methamphetamine, syringes, cotton swabs and a baggie with white residue on May 12. She was arrested that day because warrants in other cases had been issued for her arrest, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Court records show she has a history of drug, theft and other misdemeanor charges dating back to 2014.
List recalled that Yeaman was a student at West Jordan High School when he worked there as a school officer years ago. He recalled her as a friendly, gutsy student who did not hesitate to strike up conversations with resource officers and administrators.
"She would start chit-chatting and joking," he recalled. "I think she was a nice girl. That doesn't mean she didn't do something wrong."
"We want these kids to succeed," he continued. "I feel horrible. I don't know if there's anything I could have done."
Three other people were sleeping inside the house — the man's 58-year-old mother, a 25-year-old woman and a young child — when they heard the garage door open, according to List.
Officers interviewed the man who shot Yeaman and later released him.
The family had moved into the West Jordan home sometime in the past year, said John Painter, president of the homeowner's association for the neighborhood, the Maples at Jordan Hills.
"It's pretty alarming if someone broke into your house in the middle of the night. It's dark and it'd be really difficult to analyze that threat level," he said.
Painter said the homeowner's group plans to consider steps to help prevent similar break-ins in the future.
"We'll be talking about a neighborhood crime watch in this community," he said, "and make sure that something like this never happens again."
Contributing: Peter Samore
Editor's note: It was earlier reported that the deceased was a man. Police then said it was a woman.