Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Missing Utahn Deborah Jones Found Dead In Branson, Missouri; Former Boyfriend And Possible Kidnapper Michael Doyel Charged

Update: April 23rd, 2008. Deborah Jones died of asphyxiation. Details posted below in green. An updated post from April 26th available HERE. Another update post from May 19th, in which Doyel was formally charged with murder, obstruction of justice, and theft can be found HERE.

Look at the picture of the woman to the left. This looks like a woman who was a truly giving person, genuinely in love with life. Look at that smile - it cannot be faked.

Unfortunately, that woman is no longer with us. Missing since Friday April 18th, 50-year-old Salt Lake City resident Deborah Jones was found in a plastic storage container in the backseat of her gray Volkswagen Passat outside a motel in Branson, Missouri late Monday night April 21st, 2008, according to Branson police. Full story published in the Deseret News and the Salt Lake Tribune and aired on KSL Channel 5 and KTVX Channel 4, HERE and HERE and HERE. Reported from the Missouri end by the Springfield News-Leader.

Inside the motel, police found Jones' former live-in boyfriend, Michael Jerome Doyel, 47, and a second woman, Patricia Murray, 59, of West Valley City, who also had been missing for a couple of days.

Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank wasn't prepared to classify Jones' death as a homicide Tuesday morning, but said it was definitely suspicious. Nevertheless, Doyel was charged in Utah's 3rd District Court Tuesday with one count of second-degree felony kidnapping. But the charges actually stem from Doyel leaving the state with Murray. This is because Murray's sister and legal guardian, Darby Barstow, did not given permission for Doyel, or any other person, to remove Murray from the state.

Branson Police Chief Carrol McCullough said Jones' body was taken to Springfield for an autopsy. Based on a preliminary investigation, McCullough said Jones may have been dead before the Volkswagen ever arrived in Missouri. Doyel and Murray were being questioned by officers Tuesday. Salt Lake Chief Burbank said a Salt Lake detective was also sent to Missouri to interview the two.

Update: On April 23rd, KSL reports that the Taney County (MO) Coroner Kevin Tweedy said that Deborah Jones died of asphyxiation, and that she may have been dead for three or four days before discovery. Michael Doyel is now being held in the Taney County jail on a bond of $1 million. In Utah, he's charged with kidnapping Patricia Murray from an adult living center in West Valley City. Missouri authorities have released her.

Michael Doyel and Deborah Jones knew each other. The two apparently first met in South Carolina, then when Deborah returned to Utah, Michael followed her. They then lived together for six months in Jones' Highland Park home just east of Sugar House until she broke up with him and told him to move out two weeks ago. But Doyel apparently didn't take to kindly to being cut off from his meal ticket. Jeff Jones, one of Deborah's two sons, said that after his mother and Doyel broke up, Doyel made several threatening phone calls, some violent in nature.

On April 16th, Deborah Jones went to Salt Lake police to report a possible fraud involving Doyel. She believed Doyel was using some of her credit cards. At that time, she mentioned he had been making harassing phone calls but was not worried that her life was in danger. Police arranged for her to come back the next day to talk to them and to go to court to get a civil stalking injunction against Doyel, but that was the last time police saw her.

On Friday April 18th, a friend received a call from Jones, Burbank said. He did not know from where she was calling, but it was the last time anyone heard from her. After her family reported Jones missing Saturday night, police searched the immediate area and then put a description of her and her vehicle on NCIC, a national information database for police, so officers in any state could look for her. An endangered person advisory was issued Sunday for Jones.

Patricia Murray, who has diminished mental capacity, disappeared about the same time as Doyel and Jones. The care center where she lives, near 3100 South and 3500 West, is designed for retired people and people who have special needs. The report on KTVX, combined with Doyel's obvious sponging off Deborah Jones, leads one to believe he may have been targeting Murray for her money or because he thought he could dominate her because of her diminished mental capacity.

Michael Doyel's mother, 75-year-old Pauline Doyel, was also quite forthcoming and honest about her son. Pauline said her son is a "habitual liar" and suffers from what she called paranoid schizophrenia. She said her son was on medication for a while and then stopped taking it, believing he no longer needed it. She also said her son had been in trouble with the law in Iowa for several crimes, including shoplifting, theft and forgery. Utah court records also show Michael Doyel has had run-ins with the law in Utah for assault on a police officer and was arrested for being a fugitive from justice from Iowa.

Pauline Doyel also stated that Michael had been married and divorced twice. His first marriage was characterized by physical violence. Michael had been allegedly calling his mother every week until recently. In one phone coversation, he told his mother that he and Jones were having problems and there had been some "pushing and shoving and slapping,"

Deborah Jones' other son, Bryan, made a statement to the media in front of her house Tuesday. "We're deeply saddened by the recent developments. Deborah had nothing but love and compassion for others. As a nurse she took care of patients and really cared about her job. Although we're not sure it's a homicide, we're pretty sure what happened. The person responsible is a despicable piece of human flesh. He's a monster, and we all hope he is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. ... He took something precious from us — someone who can never be replaced."

The family has a website,, which they intend to transform into an advocacy site to help people caught in domestic violence. They plan to establish the Deborah Jones Foundation.

Commentary: Obviously, Michael Doyel himself has diminished mental capacity. The schizophrenia he's been fighting all his life has ruined everything he's been involved in - relationships, employment, etc. This is a tragedy for all concerned.

However, Doyel has proven himself to be a continuous danger to society wherever he goes, and so his disability does not obviate the need to hold him accountable. If he's ultimately found guilty of murdering Deborah Jones, he must be executed. This will not only deliver him from his mortal affliction, but will be the only way to provide satisfaction to Deborah's surviving family members.

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