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Arizona siblings suspected in theft of more than 100,000 pounds of copper sold in Utah

By Amy Donaldson, KSL | Posted - Aug. 1, 2020 at 8:15 a.m.

ST. GEORGE — Arizona siblings have been charged with multiple felonies in connection with a monthslong scheme to allegedly steal more than 100,000 pounds of copper from an Arizona power company and sell it at a St. George recycling facility.

Carl Slowtalker, 28, and his sister, Chelsea Slowtalker, 26, were arrested on July 23, after an investigator from the Salt River Project power company and railroad contacted St. George police about the theft of more than 100,000 pounds of copper, valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to court documents filed in 5th District Court in St. George.

Carl Slowtalker was charged on July 27 with use or possession of drug paraphernalia, a class B misdemeanor; theft by deception, a third degree felony; theft by receiving stolen property, a third degree felony; and possession of a controlled substance, a class A misdemeanor.

Chelsea Slowtalker was charged on July 27 with two felonies — theft by receiving stolen property and theft by deception. Both are being held in the Washington County jail.

The copper, nearly 60 miles of it, had been stolen in March from a site in Kaibeto, Arizona, which is a rural community between Page and Tuba City, according to the investigator who called police.

The investigator told St. George police that “She’d been in contact with Rocky Mountain Recycling in St. George, and that they had taken in over 100,000 pounds of copper, but had already sold all but 20,000 pounds,” the jail affidavit filed for Carl Slowtalker said.

The investigator said the copper was unique in size, quality and style to her company. She said the only other company that uses that type of copper is a company based in China, court documents said.

When St. George police examined the record of those who’d sold copper to Rocky Mountain Recycling, they found Chelsea Slowtalker among the 10 names on the list, court document said.

She brought copper to be recycled on four different dates, and was paid between $900 and more than $3,000 for the “scrap” metal, according to court documents. On the afternoon of July 23, employees of Rocky Mountain Recycling called police to report two people — a man and a woman — were at their business attempting to sell more of the same copper. The estimated value for the sale on that day was just over $1,500.

Officers arrived and talked with both Carl and Chelsea Slowtalker, who told police they were brother and sister. Officers questioned them about where they’d gotten the copper, and both said from another family member, according to court documents.

In a probable cause affidavit detailing the charges against Carl Slowtalker, officials said he told them his relative gave him the copper in “trade for a three-wheeler.” He also said he knew the copper had been taken from the power plant, and that “he tried to sell the copper because he’s currently out of work and is trying to make money to support his family,” court documents said.

“He also said the entire Navajo Reservation is taking the copper and selling it, and that they started taking it after the radio station announced that the power plant and railroad was closed,” court documents said. According to the affidavits, they said numerous other relatives were involved, and Carl Slowtalker reportedly told police “that basically the entire Navajo Reservation was taking and ‘scrapping’ the copper for money,” court documents said.

Chelsea Slowtalker is being held on $10,700 bail and is scheduled to appear in court next Wednesday, while her brother remains in jail with a bail amount of $13,440.

Amy Donaldson

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