‘New things coming to light’ in unsolved ’70 murder of Price mother, investigator says
PRICE — New information has “come to light” regarding the unsolved 1970 murder of a young Price mother following news reports about the recent exhumation of the woman’s remains, an investigator confirmed Saturday.
Loretta Marie Jones was 23 when someone raped her and stabbed her 17 times in her residence. Her then 4-year-old daughter founder her dead in the front room of their home on July 30, 1970.
Detective Wally Hendricks of the Carbon County Sheriff’s Office said DNA samples were collected from Jones’ remains and other forensic examination conducted following the exhumation in early June. Jones’ body was reinterred in the Elmo City Cemetery following the examination.
“We’ve also had some new witness information come forward. As a result, we presented the case to the attorney general’s office for more technical advice and investigation assistance there, which we’re excited about. So things are coming together,” Hendricks told KSL-TV Saturday.
“Typically in cold cases you go through a lot of spells with very little information and once in while you get information. It seems like lately we’ve been getting information we’re very excited about.”
Hendricks said he would not speculate whether the new information would lead to an arrest and possible charges.
“I hesitate to comment on that because that’s more of a legal, technical issue that I’m not comfortable answering. But I do know this, we have better evidence now than we’ve ever had,” he said.
Jones’ daughter, Heidi Jones-Asay, said investigators have kept her informed about the new developments in her mother’s case.
“We’re so close. I have never given up hope that we would get justice for my mother. I have so much more hope now (with the new information),” she said.
Hendricks said DNA evidence is still being processed, and investigators have other information that is helping investigators more fully understand the circumstances of Jones’ death in retrospect.
“There are new things just come to light and things that didn’t make sense maybe a year ago (that) make sense now and corroborative evidence has started to come together,” he said.
Hendricks described the recent meeting with the Utah attorney general’s staff as an update, explaining that the sheriff’s office has briefed state officials on the case on prior occasions. “This (was) what we have now. ‘How do we interpret this? How is this beneficial or not?’ It was kind of an update and to get some insight from them. And they helped us with a lot of things and some good direction.”
After Jones’ slaying, a man was arrested and questioned in connection with the rape and homicide but was let go after a judge determined there was insufficient evidence to move the case to trial.
In 2009, Jones-Asay asked her high school classmate, Carbon County Sheriff’s Sgt. David Brewer, to take another look at the case.“We have never made it this far (with the investigation), and it’s time. It’s time it’s going to be finished,” Jones-Asay said.
Hendricks said Brewer has doggedly worked the cold case since.
“The amount of work, the sheer volume of work he has put into this over the past seven years is something I’ve never seen in my 24 years of experience. I’ve never seen one detective do that volume of work and be as effective and thorough as he’s been,” he said.
In his support role, Hendricks said Jones’ murder is “a very intriguing and real case. It’s almost like it’s not 40 years old. It’s more like it’s happening now.”
Anyone who has information about the case is urged to contact the Carbon County Sheriff’s Office at 435-636-3251.
“What we’re finding is, people who have come forward that was contemporary to the time that Loretta was murdered, they have assumed that we already knew this information. So if you know anything, please don’t assume that we already know, just come forward … It may prove pivotal in this case,” Hendricks said.
The detective said it is still too soon to publicly identify the person who police believe killed Jones. The man is still alive, Hendricks said, adding that investigators are “actively pursuing” the man’s arrest and prosecution.
Contributing:Geoff Liesik, KSL-TV