Family of Taylorsville teen stabbed and dismembered worried they’ll get no justice in his death

Apr 5, 2024, 10:52 PM | Updated: 10:57 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – The family of a murdered Taylorsville teen is worried the case will end up going in a whole new direction, after a new filing by the defense team that could change what happens with the accused killer.

That now 20-year-old suspect, Rowdy Aguilar, is in juvenile detention after the 2021 murder of Ivan “Nick” Vetecnik when Nick was 15 and Aguilar was 17.

Aguilar had a pretrial conference at Salt Lake County District Court on Friday for the alleged brutal stabbing and dismemberment. Samantha VanTreese, Nick’s older sister, attended remotely from where she lives in Texas.

When she thinks about her baby brother, Samantha VanTreese, feels nothing but love.

“He was always on the positive side … he was the sweetest guy,” she said.

Samantha VanTreese explained how their mother died in 2019, and then Nick’s father died in December 2020. Despite that, she said Nick Vetecnik found reasons to laugh and bring others up.

But then, in May 2021, Nick Vetecnik was found stabbed and dismembered, his remains stuffed in trash bags. Investigators believed he was stabbed in the head 26 times.

Thinking about the fact her brother was taken away from her three years ago, and she still doesn’t have justice, feels sickening for Samantha VanTreese.

“Absolute rage,” she said. “Because I know that he invited my brother over that day, and he knew what he was doing.”

Samantha VanTreese with her brother Nick Vetecnik.

Samantha VanTreese with her brother Nick Vetecnik. (Courtesy: Samantha VanTreese)

The affidavit of probable cause states that Aguilar’s father discovered Nick VanTreese’s body in his utility trailer. Detectives reported finding a knife in the trailer, smelling cleaning agent in the trailer, and finding garbage bags in the field behind the house with body parts belonging to Nick VanTreese.

Documents state a bloody t-shirt was discovered in Aguilar’s room. After he was arrested, detectives said Aguilar told them he didn’t know Nick VanTreese and was at his girlfriend’s house all day. He allegedly explained away injuries on his hands by saying he cut his hands while trying to barbeque ribs.

Taylorsville Teen Dismembered, Stabbed 

However, according to the affidavit, Aguilar later told investigators, “I did it,” in regard to Nick VanTreese’s death.

“He committed a crime that was absolutely heinous,” Samantha VanTreese said.

Now, the defense is saying Aguilar intends to plead not guilty by reason of insanity. A filing by the defense states a clinical psychologist they hired evaluated Aguilar and determined that he suffers from delusions and, “did not know that he was taking the life of a human being but rather a non-human alien.”

“In other words, Mr. Aguilar was unable to formulate the intent to cause the death of another,” the notice states.

Investigators blocked off a Taylorsville home and yard in May 2021 during the murder investigation.

Investigators blocked off a Taylorsville home and yard in May 2021 during the murder investigation (KSL TV)

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill can’t comment on this specific case because it’s ongoing, but explained that in general, if someone is found mentally incompetent and non-restorable, it could change how the prosecution and the case moves forward.

“I think everybody understands that if somebody is genuinely mentally ill, but could not form the intent and did not possess the capacity under our system, we don’t have the same kind of culpability and accountability,” he said.

He explained there’s a process that needs to play out first. The state usually does their own mental evaluation.

Aunt Remembers Teenage Nephew Killed In Taylorsville Homicide

Gill said mental health issues can be subtle and complex.

“We want to make sure, how do we balance the needs of somebody who’s mentally ill, the impact on a particular family, and the safety of our community,” he said.

In Friday’s pretrial conference, the judge gave the state 30 days to do their own mental evaluation on Aguilar. For now, Aguilar is set to go on trial in August.

Samantha VanTreese worries the case won’t end with her feeling like she got the outcome she’s hoping for.

“Every action should have a consequence. And I don’t believe getting a slap on the wrist, or getting out in a mental facility is something that that individual needs,” she said. “He needs to be put behind bars, to say the least, for the rest of his life.”

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Family of Taylorsville teen stabbed and dismembered worried they’ll get no justice in his death