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KEARNS — Three men who allegedly claimed they were hired to kill a couple because of a drug debt and ended up kidnapping a woman in the process are now facing numerous criminal charges.
Jerod Bowers, 43, of Cottonwood Heights; Dwight Messick, 37; and Daniel Roberts, 36, of Cottonwood Heights, were each charged Friday in 3rd District Court with aggravated kidnapping and two counts of aggravated robbery, first-degree felonies; plus aggravated kidnapping in the course of committing unlawful detention, a third-degree felony.
On Nov. 19, Unified police were holding surveillance on a home near 4400 West and 5400 South after receiving a tip "that a truck was to be used to transport a large quantity of drugs from the house," according to charging documents.
The officers watched as a pickup truck and another vehicle left the house and drove onto I-15. While detectives were following, a man who was in the house called 911 claiming that he and his girlfriend had just been robbed and that his girlfriend had been kidnapped. The woman was inside one of the vehicles that police were following, the charges state.
Officers conducted a "high-risk stop" on both vehicles. As investigators tried to sort out what was happening, they were told by the woman that the three men had arrived at the house to confront her boyfriend about a drug debt, the charges say.
"Bowers, Roberts and Messick told (the couple) that they were hired to rob, kidnap or kill (the couple)," according to the charges. "(The woman) stated that Bowers, Roberts and Messick demanded money in exchange for (their) freedom."
The boyfriend later claimed he heard Messick say, "Let's just do it and smoke them right here," the charging documents allege. He also told police he believed the three men "were hired by some 'mob' to rob" him and his girlfriend and that the trio had demanded they pay $120,000. He also claimed he was told by another witness that the men "were hired to shoot" the couple.
The woman told police she offered the three men $380 for their freedom, which they took, but then still tried to force her boyfriend to go with them, according to the charges. The woman told police "that she volunteered herself to go" with the three men instead because she "thought there was a lesser chance of (her) being killed."
Despite those claims, Unified police say they could not find any evidence that the three men had been hired by anyone to commit murder, but rather were looking for an opportunity to rob the couple.
Prosecutors have requested each defendant be held in the Salt Lake County Jail without the possibility of posting bail pending trial.