LOCAL NEWS

Blanding man charged with murder in connection with disappearance of 2 men

Mar 13, 2024, 7:04 PM

Christopher "Topher" Owens and William "Drew" Bull were last seen on February 26 in Blanding...

Christopher "Topher" Owens and William "Drew" Bull were last seen on Feb. 26 in 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 (Courtesy: Isabelle Bulle)

(Courtesy: Isabelle Bulle)

BLANDING — A Blanding man is now accused of killing two men who lived in his house and have not been seen since Feb. 25.

Charles Youngjuom Yoo, 35, was charged Wednesday in 7th District Court with two counts of aggravated murder, a first-degree felony; and obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony.

Yoo was originally arrested for investigation of obstructing justice on Friday in connection with the disappearance of Christopher “Topher” Owens, 28, and 29-year-old William “Drew” Bull. According to charging documents, Yoo killed the two men on Feb. 25.

Family pleads for answers after two men mysteriously disappear near Blanding

On Feb. 27, police were called to a residence in Blanding after one of Bull’s friends said he was concerned about Bull. Both Bull and Owens lived at that address in a home owned by Yoo, according to a police booking affidavit.

The friend told law enforcers that Bull and Owens were driving back to Blanding from Moab, but he had not had contact with Bull since Feb. 25. The friend said that Bull’s “significant other” sent him a screenshot on Feb. 27 of a text allegedly sent by Bull that indicated some distress, the affidavit states.

“(The friend) said the text message seemed suspicious for several reasons,” the affidavit states.

One reason was that Bull claimed in the text that he “couldn’t deal” with his ex-wife, “but (he) spelled her name incorrectly. Detectives also later learned (Bull) had not been in contact with his ex-wife for approximately three years,” according to the affidavit.

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

The text also mentioned Owens “possibly not being alive,” the affidavit states. Police say Owens “was a consistent user of social media and he had not been on social media or heard from since Feb. 25.”

When the friend spoke to Yoo, Yoo claimed that one of his many guns was missing, according to the affidavit.

“(The friend) said he told Charles he needed to report the gun missing, but Charles wanted to speak to his attorney before he made the report to officers. (The friend) said no one had heard from Bull or Owens since Feb. 25 until the suspicious text was received,” the affidavit states.

Investigators found video from a surveillance camera of Bull and Owens at a gas station in Blanding on Feb. 25 at 11:30 a.m., confirming that they had safely made it back from Moab, according to the affidavit.

Yoo claimed he saw the men leave the house about mid-morning on Feb. 26 in a black Dodge, but he was not able to provide any further description of the vehicle despite his main occupation being a mechanic and having substantial knowledge about cars and trucks, police noted in the affidavit. Detectives viewed surveillance video from the area and did not see any black Dodge coming or going from the area at that time, the affidavit states.

Investigators also conducted emergency pings on the men’s phones. No data for Owens’ phone could be found, and Bull’s “phone showed a location that returned to an area in Blanding approximately 700 yards from Charles’ residence. The area was checked, and no person or cellphone was located,” according to the affidavit.

On Feb. 27, the friend and Yoo went to Moab to pick up Bull’s girlfriend. When they returned to Yoo’s home, “Charles thought it would be a good idea to tactically clear the residence for any possible threats. Charles is a former military veteran and instructed (the friend on) the proper technique for clearing the home,” the affidavit states. One door was locked, however, even though Yoo claimed the room had been “cleared.”

“Charles was adamant that it was clear and there was no reason to enter the room,” according to police.

The affidavit states that Yoo, Bull and Bull’s girlfriend “all shared their Google locations constantly due to their good friendship.” But on March 1, Yoo said he was going out of town and turned off his location data, the affidavit states.

“Detectives obtained information through investigative means that provided several locations Charles had traveled. Charles was interviewed by detectives regarding the trip and failed to provide the correct information as to where detectives already knew he had traveled,” according to the affidavit.

Cellphone data collected by investigators also showed that the text sent on Feb. 27 by Bull was allegedly sent from Yoo’s home, even though he claimed he hadn’t seen the men since they allegedly left the day before, the affidavit states.

After all of that information was collected on Friday, Yoo was formally questioned by police about the text message.

“Charles was asked about the text message and about where it was sent. Charles nodded his head in the affirmative after detectives told him that the text was sent from his residence, and also nodded his head in the affirmative when he was asked if he knew how the text was sent,” according to the 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,” the San Juan Sheriff’s Office in a Facebook post on Friday.

It was not immediately known Wednesday if the bodies of the two missing men had been located.

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Blanding man charged with murder in connection with disappearance of 2 men