SMITHFIELD, Utah -- A 14-year-old Utah girl found in a dry canal with a gunshot wound to the head was allegedly attacked by two teenage boys who had initially planned to murder her using knives, then rob her.
Charging documents filed in court Tuesday, February 21st shed new light on the attack that sent 14-year-old Deserae Turner to a hospital with serious injuries.
Police began investigating after Deserae, who lives in Amalga, was reported missing last week after she failed to return home from school. Hours later, she was found in a dry canal with a gunshot wound to the head. Investigators interviewed associates and reviewed cellphone records, ultimately leading them to two teenage suspects.
One of the suspects told police that he and the other teen had lured the girl to the canal under the pretense of selling her a knife, but it was allegedly all part of a predetermined plan to rob and murder the girl.
The suspect told police the boys planned to kill the girl using knives, but one boy brought along a .22-caliber revolver "as a secondary weapon to be used against [the victim] if the original plan failed." The teen suspect took the revolver from beneath the mattress of a sibling, according to prosecutors.
The teen also told police he shot the girl in the back of the head while standing in close proximity to her. The teens then took the girl's phone and iPod as well as money from her purse, about $55, before dumping her backpack in a dumpster in a city park. The teen told officers the motive for the attack was "greed", according to the charges.
The boy initially told police he had discarded the spent bullet casing, but when police did not recover it in the location described, the teen admitted the other suspect had "asked if he could keep it as a memento." That casing was found on the sill of the second boy's bedroom window. Police also recovered items stolen from the victim during their investigation.
The second teen denied any involvement in the crime, charging documents state, but police say cellphone records contradict some of the statements that teen made. The teen changed his story several times when confronted with contradictions or evidence showing his involvement.
Both teens have been charged with one count of attempted aggravated murder, one count of aggravated robbery, and four counts of obstructing justice. Because the suspects are juveniles, their names have not been released. Both juveniles were processed into the Cache Valley Youth Center.
Deserae remains in a hospital in critical condition and in a medically-induced coma.
The "Deserae Turner Charity Fund" has been set up at America First Credit Union for donations to help the Turner family.