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Team coverageWest Valley police have made multiple arrests in the murder of a teenager. A tip led them to the victim's body at a West Valley golf course Friday morning. Now they say it looks like the murder is connected to a string of robberies.
Police released the victim's name: He is 18-year-old JoJo Brandstatt of Salt Lake City. Officers say it looks like he was shot to death sometime overnight.
Officers arrested a 14-year-old boy on murder charges. They have also arrested 19-year-old Shardise Malaga, 18-year-old Spencer Carter and 26-year-old Jeremiah Williamson on charges of aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery in connection with the crimes.
Investigators are not commenting on why but say the four, and possibly three more people, were involved in three robberies at three 7-Eleven stores and the death of Brandstatt, who was found shot multiple times at West Ridge Golf Course.
"The robberies and the body were, I don't want to say part of a single criminal episode, but these people, at one time or another, were with each other last night," said West Valley police Capt. Tom McLachlan.
The three 7-Elevens were robbed at gunpoint within an hour of each other Thursday night.
The first robbery happened at the 7-Eleven near 6200 South and 3600 West around 10 p.m. Police say a man armed with a handgun entered the convenience store, went to the back of the store and waited until the other customers left. He then approached the person at the register, pointed the gun and demanded money.
When the cashier opened the register, the robber jumped over the counter, took about $120 and left the store.
Half an hour later, the 7-Eleven located at 3100 West and 3500 South in West Valley City was hit. Police say a man stormed into the store with a handgun, demanded money and then left quickly, but this time with no cash.
Ten minutes later, the same thing happened at the 7-Eleven at 2320 S. Redwood Road. A cashier who was inside at the time the suspect came in says he came into the store around 10:30, pulled out a handgun and pointed it up to the other cashier's face.
He then demanded money. When that cashier handed it to him, she says he became upset about the amount and hit her in the face with the gun. He then fled the store on foot.
The cashiers at all three stores gave police the same description. West Valley City and the West Jordan police departments used surveillance video from all three of those stores to help identify the suspects.
Investigators do not believe the victim was involved in the robberies. They have not revealed when he met the group or how those kidnapping charges come into play.