CRIME

Case of 2 missing men now a homicide investigation; man arrested in connection with disappearance

Mar 10, 2024, 2:58 PM | Updated: 10:24 pm

BLANDING — A man was arrested in connection with the disappearance of two men in San Juan County that investigators have now deemed a homicide investigation.

The San Juan County Sheriff’s Office arrested Charles Yoo, 35, on Friday following a search warrant at the residence he had been living at with the two men who had been reported missing. Yoo was arrested on suspicion of obstruction of justice after the search was conducted, according to a police booking affidavit.

Christopher “Topher” Owens, 28, and William “Drew” Bull, 29, were considered missing by the sheriff’s office on March 1, four days after they were last seen. Three days prior, a mutual friend of Owens and Bull called the sheriff’s office “and reported he was concerned about one of his friends.”

Jeff LeBlanc, who knew both men but was especially close with Owens, said they were down in Blanding working on a vehicle project. He said Owens bounced between Colorado Springs and Blanding. Bull’s family told KSL he moved between Moab and Blanding depending on work.

“Never do I get the sense that he was worried for his well-being or anything like that,” he said.

Family pleads for answers after two men mysteriously disappear near Blanding

Communication comes to an end

All communication from Owens and Bull had dropped off on Feb. 25, furthering concerns for family and friends.

LeBlanc said their radio-silence indicated something was wrong.

“He always posting something, some piece of his life on social media. And for him just to go dark like that, I mean, it’s not, it wasn’t normal,” he said.

Shortly after the friend spoke with Yoo, a text message was received by Bull’s significant other on Feb. 27 that appeared “suspicious,” the affidavit states.

The text said, “it’s always something with everyone, I can’t deal with this,” and goes on to say, “tell toph I’m sorry if he’s alive.”

The text appeared to be sent by someone other than Bull. It mentioned the possibility of Owens no longer being alive, according to the probable cause statement. The friend grew even more concerned after Yoo, who has a large collection of guns, told him that one of them was missing.

During the investigation, police say they learned that Owens and Bull had been seen at the Maverik in Blanding on Feb. 25 at about 11:30 a.m. and obtained video footage confirming the two had made it safely back from Moab. Yoo told investigators he had seen Owens and Bull on Feb. 26 near mid-morning leaving the home in a black Dodge.

No additional information on black Dodge

Yoo did not provide any additional information regarding the black Dodge to investigators “that would have been apparent to someone with basic knowledge of a vehicle” despite Yoo being a vehicle mechanic, according to the affidavit.

He also told investigators that Owens and Bull would have access to the missing firearm since it was left sitting out. He thought the two had gone “shooting the past couple of days,” according to the police booking affidavit.

“Due to evidence collected at the residence, interviews with Yoo, investigative techniques and the lack of proof of life from William Bull and Christopher Owens, the investigation is now being termed a homicide investigation,” wrote the San Juan Sheriff’s Office in a Facebook post.

KSL asked San Juan County Sheriff Lehi Lacey if Yoo is being investigated in this homicide case.

In an email he wrote, “The investigation is ongoing and Mr. Yoo will continue to be held without bail on obstruction of justice charges.”

LeBlanc said he and other family and friends of these men want the truth of what happened to them.

“Whatever has happened just needs to be confessed, needs to be told to us so that everybody here can get on with our grieving process and we can do what we need to do,” he said.

LeBlanc said he’s not surprised officials said there’s no proof his friend is alive.

I’ve been kind of preparing myself. But I’ve had my suspicions and my speculations over the last however many days it’s been,” he said. “You could only go along without having food or water or warmth or whatever, something was going on.”

Friend wants answers

He wants to know why someone would harm Owens and Bull.

“It’s unreal,” LeBlanc said. “Toph was the type of guy that would give you the last cigarette out of his the cigarette pack. He would give you the shirt off his back. He would give you the last…bite of this food if you were in need. This kid was…just super, super duper caring and loving and I mean, he would do anything for anybody. I don’t think people really understand, this kid’s got an army behind him.”

He’s holding out hope, and said he and friends are considering a search for Bull and Owens on their own

“I’m very angry with this whole situation,” he said. “He didn’t deserve this. If it’s true he isn’t alive, he really didn’t deserve it.”

Anyone with information should call the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office at 435-587-2237.

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Case of 2 missing men now a homicide investigation; man arrested in connection with disappearance