On Friday, just after midnight, they found Deserae Turner. The 14-year-old girl was alone in a dry canal in Smithfield, Utah,[....]
Her family became concerned Thursday evening when the ninth grader, who had been in touch with her family throughout the day, failed to return home from school. Turner’s family filed a missing-person report with the Cache County Sheriff’s Office around 6:30 p.m.
Authorities discovered that Turner had been the victim of an apparent robbery and attempt on her life. On Tuesday, documents filed by Utah prosecutors alleged that two 16-year-old boys had lured her into the canal. The boys told Turner that they would sell her a knife. Instead, according to the court documents, they planned to kill her. One boy allegedly shot her in the head with a .22 caliber handgun. The teenagers stole her iPod, her phone and US$55 she was carrying in her purse.
Friends of the family found Turner in the canal bed. They were searching the Smithfield area based on Turner’s cellphone information, which local authorities had provided. Officials tracked her phone to the final cell towers it had pinged before the trail went cold; her phone had either died or someone had turned it off.
Upon discovering Turner, the friends called for emergency medical help. Turner was prone, semiconscious from a gunshot wound to the back of the head.
But she was alive.
Doctors medically induced a coma. As of Tuesday morning, she remained in the coma in critical condition.
The teenage boys, who have not been named, faced six charges: one count of aggravated attempted murder, a count of aggravated robbery and four counts of obstruction of justice. Prosecutors planned to try the teenagers as adults in the First District Court of Utah, under the state’s Serious Youth Offender Act. They will be arraigned in Juvenile Court on Wednesday.
Interviews with friends and acquaintances led law enforcement officials to believe that the boys were people of interest. Officials had interviewed the two teenagers on Thursday, before Turner was discovered wounded in the canal. At the time, according to the authorities, the pair denied knowing where Turner was.
But a search of the canal bed yielded evidence that Turner had not traveled alone. Footprints matched the treads of the Vans and Nike sneakers the boys wore, according to court documents obtained by Salt Lake City’s KUTV.
Warrants served over the weekend, too, provided more information about the shooting. “Items that have been seized include the handgun believed to be involved in the shooting, much of Deserae’s personal belongings, including her cellphone and other collaborating evidence,” said Smithfield Police Chief Travis Allen during the news conference. Turner’s cellphone indicated that she had been in contact with one of the boys before her disappearance.
The motivation for the attack, one of the suspects reportedly said, was “greed.” The alleged shooter wrote a note to Turner’s family, according to the court documents, in which he said he was “so sorry.” The other teenager gave conflicting accounts to police before invoking his right to an attorney.