Loretta Jones’ grave re-dedication, which took place the end of June in Elmo, UT.
In a moment of decision, nearly seven years ago, Helper resident Heidi Jones-Asay as well as Carbon County Sergeant David Brewer made a choice that would change both their lives forever.
Jones-Asay, who had been tormented for roughly 40 years at the time, had approached her high school classmate, who was then working with the Carbon County Sheriff’s Office as a detective, with an inquiry as to his availably to take on an extremely daunting task. His answer? Yes.
Sergeant Brewer was soon after introduced to the case that would take him across state borders multiple times as well as in and out of archives and basements searching for any sign of light for the next seven years.
The case that Jones-Asay had in mind for the then detective was none other than the cold case of her mother’s brutal rape and murder when Jones-Asay was just four years old. The deceased 23-year-old Loretta M. Jones was found by her daughter in their Price home in late July of 1970, a picture still stained onto the mind of the now grown Heidi.
Thus, Sergeant Brewer started on the long road to bring justice to the frozen case. “One would think it would be fairly simple,” Sergeant Brewer said recently in regards to the case. He started with the case file and evidence box. The only problem was that neither of the items existed. Hunting through microfilms and basements, Sergeant Brewer repeatedly came up empty handed, which led him to his next move.
The sergeant then began to track down any witnesses and dive into the world of urban legends. “What I quickly learned about urban legends is every urban legend has a truth at the beginning, no matter how small it is,” he said.
Sergeant Brewer came across two tales that led to some light coming to the case. The largest revelation, however, came when he visited the girlfriend of a man who had been apprehended after the crime as guilty. A man who, up to that point, Brewer had ruled out of his list.
Finding Marsha Hidalgo, who was eight months pregnant and living with the assumed guilty party at the time of the murder, took Sergeant Brewer from Colorado to Kansas before he was able to make contact.
“I remember her telling me she didn’t have anything to tell me,” he stated. What Hidalgo had to say, however, led to many new discoveries and the clear revelation that her then-boyfriend was guilty.
Sergeant Brewer presented his case to the Attorney General’s Office nearly five and a half years ago and received support. However, officials from Carbon County were not as convinced, which led the Sergeant to Colorado to talk to his main suspect about the crime: Thomas Egley.
In March of 2010, Sergeant Brewer and Egley sat down together for the first time and talked about the incident. Though no confession was made, Sergeant Brewer remembers how various things said in the conversation would have been known only by a key player.
After repeating a similar experience with state and local officials, Sergeant Brewer spent the next four years picking up bits and pieces where he could, which ended in July of 2014 with a letter of declination from the Carbon County Attorney stating that he would open the case if more evidence was found.
With a new fire and determination, the next step was taken. A step that would take family and friends back to a place they never thought they would again visit, Loretta’s grave.
The decision to exhume the body was a hard one, with those involved aware of how hard it would be for the family. The decision, though hard, proved fruitful. “Once we had my Mom’s body exhumed, it really took off,” Jones-Asay affirmed. “Having my mom’s body exhumed was, in my mind, the best thing to do for the case.
“Being 50 years old and giving a eulogy at your mom’s grave that you had buried 46 years ago prior,” she continued, “It was very emotional, but it was also a calming because I was able to say things to her, about her, that I was never able to say because I was so young.”
The exhumation took place on June 7 and on the very next evening, Sergeant Brewer received a call from Colorado. The individual on the other end of the phone stated how Egley had called and talked about his need for someone to care for his pets as well as asking the person to research how long DNA would stay on a body. “When we heard that,” Sergeant Brewer said, “we started building a game plan to go out and talk to him.”
July 5 found the Sergeant on the road again visiting Hidalgo, the Colorado informant and eventually to Egley himself. It was then, in the first week of July, in Egley’s living room, that he confessed to the crime.
The story did not end with the confession, however, as last Thursday, Sergeant Brewer made one of his last car trips for the case, this time to Salt Lake City to pick up Egley at the airport before being booked into the Carbon County Jail.
For Egley, the future is unclear on what the trial will hold. For Carbon County, the long-standing cold case is finally being brought closer and closer to a close. For Jones-Asay, however, she remains unsure of the future. “It’s a hard feeling to describe to hear, ‘Tom confessed and not only that he’s locked up in jail,’” she said.
Jones-Asay reported of feeling a sort of “calm before the storm,” thinking of the fact that she will have to see him in court and be present through the process. “I’m going to do my best to not let him see my emotions,” she said. “I don’t want him to think in any way, shape or form that he has control over me. I know I will be emotional; I’m an emotional person. I’m going to do my best to get through it the best I can.”