Volunteers who searched for Elizabeth Salgado saddened by discovery of body 3 years later

May 25, 2018, 1:34 AM

PROVO, Utah – Three years later, those who helped search for Elizabeth Salgado say they are “disheartened” by the news of the discovery of the woman’s body under “suspicious” circumstances.

“Hopefully her family can feel some comfort in that we know what’s happened, but it’s still disheartening and sad,” Meagan Brooks said Thursday evening.

Related: Family of Elizabeth Salgado wants justice

Meagan Brooks and Olivia Carter

Brooks volunteered with her friend, Olivia Carter, to help look for Salgado in the weeks after she disappeared in 2015.

“When somebody in your community is gone, you wonder what happened and you want to help out,” Brooks said.

Carter said she had followed the case closely over the past three years, always hoping that Salgado would be found.

Police confirmed late Wednesday that remains had been uncovered in Hobble Creek Canyon that were subsequently identified through dental records as belonging to Salgado.

Related: Skeletal remains identified as those of Elizabeth Salgado

Prosecutor’s View

The skeletal remains of Elizabeth Salgado were found in Hobble Creek Canyon on Friday, May 18, 2018. The native of Mexico and recently-returned LDS missionary had only been in Provo for three weeks when she disappeared.

Kent Morgan, who prosecuted murder cases for much of his 29 years at the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s office, said determining the cause and manner of death is likely one of the highest priorities currently in the investigation.

“Anybody who tried to prosecute a homicide with an undetermined cause of death would lose and he wouldn’t even get past a preliminary hearing,” said Morgan, who is retired as a prosecutor and now works as a criminal defense attorney.

Thursday morning, Utah County Sheriff Jim Tracy characterized the case as a “homicide investigation under suspicious circumstances.”

Morgan said how and where Salgado was found could prove to be significant.

A driver told police he found Elizabeth Salgado’s remains after pulling off the roadway in Hobble Creek Canyon.

“People have been in that area, didn’t smell anything, didn’t run across it,” Morgan said. “No animals were around the body, such as birds and things like that – unusual.”

Morgan said investigators should look into all possibilities, including that Salgado didn’t die shortly after she disappeared.

“Does it mean the body was there for three years or not?” Morgan questioned. “I would look at that.”

Morgan said if someone did in fact kill Salgado, detectives would likely be able to find those responsible.

“My experience is people who kill other people don’t do so with good planning — they do so on the spur of the moment — and ultimately they’re discovered,” Morgan said. “They can’t cover all the bases.”

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Volunteers who searched for Elizabeth Salgado saddened by discovery of body 3 years later