Men charged in connection with numerous church burglaries are linked to even more

At least two of the men already facing charges for a series of burglaries of meetinghouses of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are now being linked to even more cases.

At least two of the men already facing charges for a series of burglaries of meetinghouses of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are now being linked to even more cases. (Alex Staroseltsev, Shutterstock)


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SOUTH JORDAN — Two men already facing numerous charges for allegedly breaking into meetinghouses of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are now facing even more.

Lee Pierce Baker, 21, of South Jordan, and Malachi Scott Guttierrez, 19, of Midvale, were each charged Wednesday with an additional nine counts of burglary of a building, a third-degree felony.

Daxton Layne Rushworth, 19, of West Valley City, who has also been charged in prior burglary investigations, is listed as a co-defendant but, as of Wednesday midday, had not been formally charged with new crimes.

According to charging documents filed Wednesday, Baker and Guttierez are accused of breaking into meetinghouses belonging to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints last August and September in South Jordan, West Jordan, Riverton and Draper.

When questioned, Guttierrez told police the group of men "would kick the doors open to gain entry into the churches" and "would go into the kitchen areas first looking for food, but then go into the bishops' offices looking for money" and gift cards, the charges state. "Guttierrez said that if electronics were located, they would sell them online."

Guttierrez also told police "he lost track of how many churches were burglarized" but guessed about 30, according to charging documents.

The three men are also facing charges filed in January in connection with a string of meetinghouse burglaries in Salt Lake County and Utah County.

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

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