UNITED STATES NEWS

‘The Letter’ assesses the arrest and motives behind Utah murder

Sep 13, 2022, 4:15 AM | Updated: 7:40 am

Jorge Benvenuto (KSL TV Photo)...

Jorge Benvenuto (KSL TV Photo)

(KSL TV Photo)

Listen to all episodes of ‘The Letter’ here.

LEHI, Utah — Almost as soon as Sgt. Jerry Townsend settled into the driver’s seat of his unmarked police car, the man handcuffed next to him began asking him questions.

“How long did it take you guys to find the people I shot?” said 19-year-old Jorge Benvenuto, who wore basketball shorts and a T-shirt. Townsend told him only one of the two teens he’d shot was dead – Zachary Snarr.

The other, Yvette Rodier, was in the hospital fighting for her life.

“You mean the girl isn’t dead?” asked Benvenuto, whose legs were covered in a thick coating of dust from the 16 miles he walked after dumping the Bronco he’d stolen after shooting the two teens at Little Dell Reservoir less than 24 hours earlier.

“I can’t believe she’s not dead,” Benvenuto reportedly told Townsend. “I wish she would have died so she didn’t have to suffer.”

Townsend, who passed away in 2018, detailed this 30-minute conversation in a police report in August 1996. Townsend wrote that Jorge told him he wanted to die.

In fact, Benvenuto said he’d wanted to die for quite some time, but “he didn’t have the guts to do it.”

Townsend delivered Benvenuto to the detectives he oversaw – Keith Stephens and Kris Ownby. They escorted him into a room at the Salt Lake County Justice Center where he told them that he’d been roaming the mountains, listening to music, trying to work up “the guts” to take his own life. Instead, when he happened across Snarr and Rodier, he shot them.

So what made a 19-year-old with no criminal history shoot two people he’d never met? That’s the puzzle detectives tried to piece together after finding Benvenuto just 24 hours after he committed a crime that sent shockwaves through the community for years.

United States News

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‘The Letter’ assesses the arrest and motives behind Utah murder