Utahns have a reputation for being friendly and easy-going, but these 10 murderers are nasty exceptions.
1) Ronnie Lee Gardner
On April 2, 1985, Ronnie Lee Gardner killed attorney Michael Burdell and seriously wounded a court bailiff at the Salt Lake Metropolitan Hall of Justice. Gardner was already awaiting trial for the murder of Salt Lake bartender Melvyn Otterstrom Gardner. When he arrived at the Hall of Justice for his hearing appearance, his girlfriend, Carla Hainsworth, handed Ronnie Lee a gun as part of a plot to escape custody. After shooting two people and taking one hostage, he was forced to surrender to police. Despite 25 years of appeal attempts, Ronnie Lee Gardner was executed by firing squad at the Utah State Prison in 2010.
2) Sulejman Tulovic
On February 12, 2007, Sulejman Tulovic shot nine people at Trolley Square Mall in Salt Lake City, killing five and wounding four. Tulovic drove to the mall alone, bringing along two guns and extra ammunition. He shot a father and his son in the parking lot, then proceeded into the mall where he killed a woman and injured a man. He then entered a gift shop, where he shot his remaining victims. Off-duty officer Kenneth Hammond, heard the gunshots and engaged Tulovic as he emerged from the shop, likely saving lives by distracting the shooter while more help arrived. Salt Lake City officers shot and killed Tulovic.
3) Arthur Gary Bishop
Arthur Gary Bishop was born in Hinckley, Utah and was raised as a devout Mormon. After serving an LDS mission, he later signed up as a volunteer with Big Brothers of Utah program, which gave him easy access to young boys. He molested and killed five boys in Utah between October, 1979 and July, 1983. After the last murder, police questioned Bishop, who confessed to all five killings and led authorities to the five bodies. He was convicted in 1984 and executed by lethal injection at the Utah State Prison in 1988.
4) Gary Gilmore
In July, 1976, Gary Gilmore robbed and murdered an Orem gas station clerk and a hotel motel manager in Provo. During the second murder, Gilmore shot himself in the hand. He was quickly caught and was convicted in October, 1976. He attempted suicide twice while on death row , and was executed by firing squad at the Utah State Prison in 1977. Gilmore’s execution drew national attention; it was the first following a 10-year moratorium on executions in the United States.
5) Ted Bundy
Ted Bundy wasn’t born in Utah, but he certainly left a mark on Utah’s history. Between October 2, 1974 and June 28, 1975, the serial killer kidnapped and killed at least four young women in Provo, Salt Lake City and Bountiful. He easily lured his victims away from safety with his good looks, charm and intelligence, but Bundy was a cold-blooded sociopath. His killing spree likely began around 1971, in Washington state. Before his death, he admitted to 30 murders, in seven different states. However, the real number of Bundy’s victims is unknown; his story changed repeatedly over the years. Ted Bundy was executed in the electric chair at Raiford Prison in Florida, on January 24, 1989.
6) Mark Hoffman
Mark Hoffman was a forger and document counterfeiter who committed the murders of two people in an attempt to cover up his forgery. Hoffman successfully fooled Mormon scholars and church leaders, who originally validated his claims of authenticity regarding several counterfeit Mormon historical documents. The church paid Hoffman large sums of money to obtain the documents, some of which would be damaging to the church’s reputation if released to the public. Hoffman sent two packages containing bombs to document collectors, in an attempt to avoid discovery of his fraud; two people died when the bombs detonated. Convicted in 1988, Hoffman is still serving a life sentence at the Utah State Prison.
7) John Doyle Lee
A polygamist with nineteen wives, Lee was a member of the Danites, a group of vigilante thugs in Utah’s early history. On September 11, 1857, John D. Lee, other Mormon men and several Native Americans attacked the Baker-Fancher party, a group of pioneers camped at Mountain Meadows in Southern Utah, killing 120 men, women and children. Originally, Lee claimed that no white men took part in the massacre, but he later stated that Danites participated in the killings. Later, Lee insisted that Brigham Young himself ordered the attack. In 1877, John D. Lee was convicted for the Mountain Meadows Massacre and was executed by firing squad at the massacre site on March 23rd. None of the other suspected murderers were tried.
8) Gary Ridgway
Gary Ridgway was born in Salt Lake City in 1949; he spent his entire childhood in Utah. Ridgway had a low IQ and didn’t graduate from high school until he was 21 years old; he then left to serve in Vietnam. When he returned from the war, he began raping and killing women in Washington state. Dubbed the “Green River Killer,” Ridgway dumped the bodies of his victims near the banks of the river. Between 1980 and 1998, he killed at least 71 women; authorities speculate that he could be responsible for over 90 victims. Regardless, Gary Ridgway is the most prolific killer in the United States. He was convicted for 49 murders and sentenced to life in prison; he’s currently serving his sentence in a federal penitentiary in Colorado.
9) and 10) Pierre Dale Selby and William Andrews
The murders of three people at a Hi-Fi shop in Ogden left Utahns shocked and horrified in April, 1974. Pierre Dale Selby and William Andrews, U.S. Airmen working at Hill Air Force Base, took five people inside the shop hostage. They bound their victims, forced them to drink drain cleaner, then shot each in the head. Three victims died; the other two sustained serious, lifelong injuries. Selby and Andrews were quickly arrested, convicted of the murders and sentenced to death. Pierre Dale Selby was executed by lethal injection on August 28, 1987; William Andrews was executed by the same method on July 30, 1992.
These are truly disturbing crimes that many of us would rather forget. Still, they are a part of our history that I hope does not repeat itself.