Arrest Made In Cold Case Murders Of Three Missing Men
Jan 18, 2019, 7:16 PM | Updated: 8:53 pm
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A suspect has been arrested in the killing of three men who had been missing since November 2014. Their bodies were never found.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill announced murder and robbery charges against Richard Christopher Friday afternoon.
Investigators said Christopher killed Danny Gallegos, Levi Collins, and Braden Emerson, who went missing over four years ago.
“Closing these kind of cold cases are very important to us as a community. Not only to the immediacy of the family who lost a loved one and for whom there is no closure, but it is also ultimately a closure for us as a community,” Gill said at a news conference.
According to a probable-cause statement, a man identified as “J.C.” told investigators he helped Christopher get rid of the men’s bodies. He talked to investigators in exchange for a “use immunity” agreement.
The probable-cause statement said “J.C.” told investigators he was going to buy a house for Gallegos in his own name. He said Gallegos came to his retail business on November 1, 2014, and that Christopher shot and killed him.
He told investigators Christopher then went to Gallegos’ vehicle, where Emerson and Collins were. He told investigators Christopher told them he needed a ride to his RV and they drove him. When they arrived, “J.C.” said, Christopher shot and killed them.
“J.C.” told investigators he agreed to help Christopher by getting rid of the men’s bodies. He said borrowed a truck from someone and went to stores to get things needed to get rid of the bodies.
Bodies, Evidence Cremated
Gill said digital location information and other investigative work corroborated “J.C.”‘s story. He said they found out that Christopher was planning to be at the federal courthouse in Salt Lake City on Friday morning, and arrested him as he left the building.
Gill said the district attorney’s office is pursuing charges of aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, obstruction of justice, abuse or desecration of a human body, and purchase, transfer, possession, or use of a firearm by a restricted person.
Sim Gill announces his office has filed a criminal complaint against Richard Christopher. This includes three counts of aggravated murder. https://t.co/OetrYmhfdC
— Sean Moody (@SeanMoodyKSL) January 18, 2019
Levi Collins’ mother, Judi Rinker, was at the news conference. She said the news was bittersweet.
“Four years, two months, and 17 days since I last seen my son. Four years, two months, and 17 days we’ve been waiting for justice,” she said.
Rinker said she hopes to see a conclusion soon. In fact, she said Collins’ daughter, who was born after he disappeared, has the middle names “Levi Justice.”
“For the one day when we would get to justice for Levi,” she said.
Prosecutors considering the death penalty
Gill said this could be a death penalty case.
He said Christopher would likely be arraigned Tuesday or Wednesday. They have 60 days from then to decide whether to pursue the death penalty.