Who Is Jerrod Baum? New Details About His Murder Trial That Began Today

Photo: KUTV
Who Is Jerrod Baum? New Details About His Murder Trial That Began Today

Mammoth, Utah was rocked by the brutal murder of two teens in 2017. Riley Powell, 18, and his girlfriend Breylynne ‘Breezy’ Otteson, 17, were reported missing in late December 2017. It took searchers two months to locate their bodies where they had been discarded down a deep mine shaft outside the town. Further examination revealed that that had been stabbed to death before being thrown down the shaft.

They were only found after Morgan Henderson told police that her boyfriend at the time, Jerrod Baum, had kidnapped and killed the two teens while she watched. This week, Baum is on trial for two counts of aggravated murder and six other felonies related to the deaths of Powell and Otteson. Henderson as been chawed with obstructing justice and has agreed to testify against Baum as part of her plea deal.

So who is Jerrod Baum? Read on for all the chilling details.

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1. Criminal past

Baum is not new to criminal activity. According to KUTV, he was charged as an adult at 15 with attempted murder. At that time, he had entered a Burger King and started shooting indiscriminately in an attempt to rob the restaurant. Later, he spent 11 years in federal prison on firearms and weapon charges. He was released on parole in 2016 and was also on probation from the State of Utah.

2. Jealous rage

At the time of the murders, Baum and Henderson were living with Baum’s father in Mammoth. Neighbors told reporters that the couple hadn’t lived there long and no one knew much about them.

However, Henderson evidently struck up an acquaintance with Powell and Otteson, despite a significant age difference. She was in her 30s at the time and the pair were still in high school. When Baum found her smoking pot with the teens, Henderson claims he flew into a jealous rage because he didn’t want her around other men.

3. Kidnapping

Baum responded to the sight of his girlfriend with Powell and Otteson by binding them with duct tape and throwing them into the back of Powell’s Jeep. Henderson testifies that he forced her to come along as he drove them out of town. He deliberately took them to a mine shaft near Eureka, not far from Mammoth.

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4. Murder

Once they arrived at the mine shaft site, Baum made the teens get out of the car and kneel on the ground. Baum then hit Powell and stabbed him repeatedly before throwing his body down the mine shaft. Otteson reportedly cried and said “Good-bye Riley” to him before Baum turned his attention to her.

She begged for her life and promised never to tell what he’d done. He then took her in his arms, said: “It’s Ok, darling” before slitting her throat and throwing her down the shaft as well. 

The hole was 1,800 feet down at its deepest point but the bodies of both teens landed on a ledge 100 feet down, which aided searchers in the recovery effort.

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5. Investigation

Henderson and Baum came under scrutiny before their arrest because Baum and Powell had known each other. It took repeated interviews before Henderson began to share the story with authorities, however.

Henderson finally agreed to talk after she was stopped for speeding in 2018. That was when she told police that Baum “had previously instructed her not to have guy friends and that it was too bad because he has never killed an innocent before.” She also alleged that he had “made Riley suffer” but felt bad about killing Otteson.

6. Trial

At a preliminary hearing that was held this week, Henderson was forthcoming with details about the gruesome murders. She told the jury about the grisly events and added: “He looked manic. He looked overjoyed. He’s got this huge grin on his face like he’s enjoying himself. He did later laugh about it and said that it was like lambs to the slaughter.”

Families of the murdered teens were in the courtroom at the hearing. Some of Henderson’s testimony contained details they had not known before. One family member said: “There are details that we learned that we didn’t know prior. Obviously, we’re only in the beginning. There is a lot more to come but we’re glad we’re here today and start the justice for the kids.”

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Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.