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6 of Utah's most infamous cold cases

By Robert J. DeBry & Associates | Posted - Feb. 3, 2020 at 8:00 a.m.



When the trail goes cold, those affected by horrendous crimes are left to wonder what really happened. In Utah alone, more than 400 unsolved crimes still haunt families, detectives and the public. In some instances, those crimes and their victims have become household names.

Here’s a rundown of some of Utah’s most infamous cold cases.

Anthony Adams

After four decades, the murder of Anthony Adams is still a daunting — and very, very cold — case. In 1978, the 25-year-old city bus driver was found in his Salt Lake City apartment, dead from multiple stab wounds.

According to Utah Investigative, the Adams case spurred much speculation because the victim was black, gay and socialist — three highly controversial characteristics for 1978. Adams was also an activist, working for the Socialist Workers Party and the NAACP. Police thought the murder could be as simple as a “bar pickup-turned-bloody.”

Whether it was hate, romance or something else that led to the brutal killing of Anthony Adams, the case remains a mystery, but one many people remain dedicated to solving. According to Utah Investigative, the cold-case squad of Salt Lake City Police Department reopened the Adams case in recent years, thanks to the help of a federal grant.

Sherry Black

The owner of B&W Billiards and Books, a shop that specialized in rare religious texts, Sherry Black was beaten, stabbed and killed in November 2010 while working at the store. According to a Deseret News story, Sherry fought her attacker, as evidenced by the blood DNA from a male left at the scene. Police did not find a match for that DNA, or the partial fingerprint or partial palm print in any FBI databases.

An Armani Exchange leather belt was also found at the scene, and family members denied owning it or seeing it before.

What police know is that Black didn’t appear to be the victim of a robbery. Police found the shop’s rare books in an undisturbed safe at the store, and no cash was taken from the register. According to Deseret News, police are still hopeful they’ll find Sherry’s killer.

The family held a vigil last November on the anniversary of Black's death. Those in attendance included daughter Heidi Miller and son-in-law and former Utah Jazz CEO Greg Miller. During that vigil, the family spoke of Sherry’s bright spirit and pleaded for anyone with information regarding her murder to come forward.

Nathan Haun

While there’s no doubt that Nathan Haun, 17, of Spanish Fork, died after being struck by a car in July 2013, the driver of the car that killed him — and his or her intentions — remain a mystery. Haun, who attended two parties the night he died, was reportedly upset when he left the second party to walk home. According to the Deseret News, Haun had been in an argument over a girl.

A passerby found Haun's body early the next morning in the middle of a road east of Interstate 15 between Salem and Payson. Whether Haun was the victim of an accidental hit and run or his death was an intentional action is still unknown. Some of the party attendees refused to speak with law enforcement, which made it difficult for police to create a solid timeline of events.

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Pamela Page

It wasn’t out of the ordinary for Pamela Page, age 26, to go jogging — in fact, it was a daily habit. Usually, her husband, Rick, rode alongside her on his bike. But on April 21, 1984, Page went alone. She never returned. Four months later, her body was found in the branches of a tree in Hobble Creek, too decomposed for the medical examiner to determine a cause of death. Without a cause of death, police can’t confirm a murder took place — much less the person who may have committed it.

According to a 1993 Deseret News story, no one witnessed Page’s kidnapping or even a struggle, but some did report a van honking at her on 900 East. Whether that van was driven by her killer — or whether she ever got into the van — remains a mystery.

Susan Powell

Utah may never find out exactly what happened to Susan Powell, a West Valley mother of two, in December 2009. While the investigation by West Valley City police officially went cold in May 2013, it’s safe to say that nearly all leads in the case led to one person of interest: Susan’s husband, Josh Powell.

Josh, who took his children camping — at midnight in a blizzard — the night before Susan’s disappearance was reported, maintained his innocence until he killed himself and his two boys by setting his Graham, Washington house on fire in February 2012.

Although Susan is presumed dead, police never found her body, even after an exhaustive search of Utah’s west desert, where Josh Powell allegedly camped the night of her disappearance.

Other parties who may have had information regarding Josh’s supposed crime are also dead; Michael Powell, Josh’s brother, was repeatedly investigated by police for suspect actions. He killed himself in 2013 in Minneapolis, where he was attending a doctoral program. Josh Powell’s father, Steve Powell, died in July 2018, after serving seven years in prison for voyeurism and child pornography.

Rosie Tapia

Lewine Tapia experienced every parent’s worst nightmare in August 1995 when her six-year-old daughter was abducted out of her ground-level bedroom window, sexually assaulted, killed and dumped in a canal near the Jordan River.

While a 25-year-old cold case presents countless challenges, Tapia’s murder may be solved yet — thanks to The Utah Cold Case Coalition, a non-profit organization dedicated to solving the state’s most heart wrenching cold cases. Last year, the Coalition linked a Barbie doll left on the victim’s headstone to a possible suspect in the case, going as far as testing the doll for DNA and requesting that anyone with knowledge of who left it on the headstone come forward.

These are just six of Utah's cold cases. To learn more about law enforcement's efforts to solve cold cases and how you can help, go to the Salt Lake City Police Department's cold case website.

Robert J. DeBry & Associates

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