West Valley man may have brutally killed elderly grandmother, still missing

A man arrested three weeks ago for allegedly kidnapping and torturing his wife is now accused of brutally killing his elderly grandmother, court documents show. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

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WEST VALLEY CITY – A man arrested three weeks ago for allegedly kidnapping and torturing his wife has now been charged with murder in the alleged brutal murder of his elderly grandmother, court documents show.

Garman Shaun Cunningham, 50, of West Valley, was charged Wednesday by the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office with aggravated murder and aggravated kidnapping, both first degree felonies; obstruction of justice, a second degree felony; two counts of aggravated assault and three counts of unlawfully discharging a firearm, both third degree felonies.

According to court documents, Cunningham killed his 99-year-old grandmother, identified only in court documents by the initials MC. As of Wednesday, his body was not found. But based on the blood and other forensic evidence as well as statements from Cunningham’s wife – whom Cunningham is also believed to have tortured – charges have been filed.

The investigation began on November 12 when police were called to Cunningham’s residence at 3360 S. Greenmont Drive. His wife had called 911, claiming she had been held hostage and beaten by Cunningham since November 1, prosecution documents show. The wife had escaped from her home and jumped over a fence to go to her neighbor’s house to call the police, according to the charges.

Officers who responded to the scene observed that the wife “had marks all over her body, including head wounds, cuts, open wounds and what appeared to be healing burns.” ) explained that Cunningham had beaten her, cut her with knives, burned her with cigarettes and cut her with broken glass. She said she was also handcuffed to a chair and threatened with a gun. She) described being strangled several times during her captivity, ”according to the charges.

After police surrounded the house and ordered Cunningham out, they heard three gunshots over a 30-minute period, as well as broken windows and large objects being moved inside the house, the charges said. . Cunningham eventually came out of his house with a sword and walked several yards before a K-9 police officer could chase after him and grab him, according to the charges.

After Cunningham’s arrest, the wife told detectives that on November 1, Cunningham attempted to suffocate her grandmother with a pillow and then beat her with his fists, causing the collapse of what the The wife believed to be the head of the grandmother, according to the charges. He then threw the grandmother down a staircase before attempting to strangle the woman, according to the charges.

When Cunningham realized his grandmother was not dead, he picked her up and took her up the stairs and threw her on the ground a second time, the wife told the police, according to the charges. He then stabbed the grandmother in the neck with a piece of his broken walker and, according to the prosecution documents, threw her down another staircase leading to the basement.

The wife told detectives that Cunningham then entered the basement with a steak knife to “finish him off,” the prosecution documents say.

“(The woman) said that Cunningham took (his grandmother’s) body to the garage and she heard him wrap it in plastic and duct tape. Cunningham told (his wife) that he had climbed the mountain and threw (her grandmother’s) body off the side of the road, rolling her body down a slope in the hope that no one would see her, “the charges state.

The wife told police she was handcuffed to a chair while in captivity and was not allowed to eat and lost around 30 pounds during that time, according to charges. She also said she was forced to clean up “large amounts of blood” and “monitor the police,” according to the charges.

“A forensic search of the residence with special chemicals and lights showed that there remained evidence that matched large amounts of blood at the foot of the stairs, in the downstairs laundry room and in the garage, that someone ‘one attempted to clean up,’ the prosecution documents say.

Police also noted that all furniture and carpets in the grandmother’s bedroom had been removed, according to the charges.

“Multiple live ammunition and discharged casings were located in various areas of the house, along with handcuffs, various knives, swords and two firearms,” ​​according to the charges.

Detectives also searched a dumpster that was delivered to the Cunningham residence on November 4.

“Inside the dumpster, a broken walker was found, along with bedding, a strip of carpet, clothing, cleaning supplies, and other materials, including a shower curtain. these items were coated with what was positive for human blood, ”the charges say. .

Forensic testing was done on the blood that matched the grandmother’s DNA profile, the charges said.

Tracing data collected from Cunningham’s phone, investigators believe he was in the Kamas area after allegedly killing his grandmother. But on Wednesday, his body had not been found. Other friends and family have not seen the woman since November 1, according to the charges.

Prosecutors have asked that Cunningham be held in the Salt Lake County Jail without the possibility of posting bail, pending trial.

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