State officials hope to close mine tied to Eureka teen killings

Apr 14, 2022, 11:22 PM | Updated: Jun 20, 2022, 1:24 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — State mining officials said Thursday that the mine where the bodies of two Eureka teens were dumped in 2017 was slated to be closed this year before a change in ownership rebooted the process.

According to prosecutors, 18-year-old Riley Powell and 17-year-old Brelynne “Breezy” Otteson were stabbed to death and then dumped down the Tintic Standard Mine in Juab County in December 2017.

Their bodies were recovered the following March, after Baum’s girlfriend led investigators to the mine.

On Thursday, as jurors continued to deliberate the fate of the man charged with the killings — 45-year-old Jerrod Baum — a spokesperson with the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining confirmed the mine was on a list to be closed as part of a larger project.

“We really wanted to get that closed for obvious reasons,” said spokesperson Hollie Brown. “It was scheduled to be closed this year as part of our Dividend project. Unfortunately the property has since been sold and so now we need to work with the current landowners to kind of get permission and work through the process so that we can get on location and hopefully get that closed.”

Brown said through a program, the state has closed roughly 7,000 abandoned mines since 1983, including approximately 450 over the past 3 years.

The division has argued those mines posed safety hazards to the public while offering opportunities to criminals to potentially hide their bad deeds.

“For people who are looking to dispose of illegal substances, and unfortunately bodies, they might think, ‘we can throw it in there and it will never be found,’” Brown acknowledged. “Sometimes that may be the case.”

Powell’s father has previously pushed for more funding to get abandoned mines closed.

“The Tintic Standard Mine incident definitely just highlights the need to close these,” Brown said.

Brown said the division was still hopeful the mine would be closed sometime in the future.

“It may not be this year but hopefully in the next year or so, we hope to get it closed,” Brown said.

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State officials hope to close mine tied to Eureka teen killings