SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A 15-year-old Utah girl was on the phone with her mother when she was “brutally attacked” and killed inside her home, police said as they hunted for a person of interest who is accused of a previous unlawful sexual encounter with the teen.
Baleigh Bagshaw was found dead inside her Salt Lake City home just after 3 p.m. when officers conducted a welfare check, FOX13 Utah reported.
Authorities said the 15-year-old’s mother was on the phone with the teenage girl when someone attacked her. The mother heard part of the assault before the phone went dead.
“She was on the phone with her mother, she was brutally attacked while inside her home,” said Sgt. Brandon Shearer with the Salt Lake City Police Department. “The mother heard the attack going on, and then the phone went dead. At that time, the mother called a neighbor to go check on Baileigh, and who also contacted police.”
Detectives are looking at Shaun French, 24, in the girl’s death.
Moreover, police said Tuesday there is an active warrant out for French’s arrest stemming from a previous unlawful sexual encounter he had with the teen. He also used to live in the same house as Bagshaw, but didn’t live there at the time of the teen’s death, Deseret News reported. (UPDATE: Suspect captured in Colorado. Scroll down for details.)
#PersonOfInterest Shaun French may be heading to Wyoming. Considered armed and dangerous. #Victim in #Homicide has been identified as a 15-year-old female. If you know where Shaun is call 801-799-3000. pic.twitter.com/eF6aMkqTLN
— SLC Police Dept. (@slcpd) May 8, 2018
French, who was described as having a beard and wearing glasses, is believed to be traveling along Interstate 80 and heading to Cleveland, Ohio, where he has contacts. He also has relatives in Evanston, Wyo., and Denver, Colo. Police said he’s driving in a camouflage-painted Daihatsu SUV with a Wyoming license plate number 19-13974.
This is an image of the actual vehicle the #PersonOfInterest from yesterday's #Homicide may be driving. Please keep an eye out, if you see this vehicle call, 801-799-3000 #SeeSomethingSaySomething . Shaun is considered armed and dangerous. pic.twitter.com/svWCRTkXjt
— SLC Police Dept. (@slcpd) May 8, 2018
Bagshaw had just returned from West High School and called her mother to let her know she was okay, a routine thing she did, FOX13 reported. It’s unclear if the attacker was waiting inside or outside of the home at the time. Police have not released her cause of death.
“I can’t even guess what the mother would be going through right now. Our hearts and thoughts are with her,” Shearer said.
Talia Zamir, who knew Bagshaw from school, said the teen was well liked.
“She was incredibly smart and talented and she always got along with people around her. She was really friendly and nice,” Zamir told Deseret News. “And that’s what makes everything so heartbreaking, honestly.”
Police said French is considered armed and dangerous. Nevertheless, they stopped short of referring to him as a suspect at this time.
Co-workers of Bagshaw are stunned. They said she always had a smile on her face and recalled her “bubbly” personality.
“She was really sweet,” said Gwendolyn Robinson. “She worked very hard. She was a good girl.”
If Bagshaw was going to be late for work, she would always call, her co-workers at Leatherby’s Family Creamery said. Even on Monday, her mother called to inform the store that Baleigh wouldn’t be coming in because of a family “emergency,” said Diana Ngyeun, who co-owns the store with her sister, Robinson.
It wasn’t until Tuesday that employees learned Baleigh had been attacked and killed inside her house after she came home from school.
“I found out the news this morning and I’m devastated,” Robinson said while fighting tears. “I expect her to be walking into work still. It’s not computing. … She’s always walking through that door and I’ll be expecting her tonight. And she’s not going to show up.”
“She’s amazing. We love her a lot,” said Nguyen.
Baleigh wanted to follow in her older sister’s footsteps and serve in the U.S. military, said Scott Arnold, her LDS bishop. He recalled the teen as an excellent student who was a joy to be around at youth activities.
“She was just a fun person and just had a great smile and a great attitude and not a mean bone on her,” Arnold said.
Arnold added, “I know my family and all of our immediate neighbors around — not just members of our LDS ward, but the neighborhood in general — is saddened to lose somebody like her.”
Investigators finished collecting evidence from inside the house in the Fairpark neighborhood on Tuesday. Bags and boxes of evidence sat on the driveway Tuesday morning waiting to be taken to the Utah State Crime Lab. Shearer said evidence in this case was “widely spread throughout the home and the area.”
French does not have any signficant criminal history in Utah. According to his Facebook page, he worked at Intermountain Plantings Inc. and went to high school in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.
UPDATE … SUSPECT IN CUSTODY
Police said the suspect in the homicide of 15-year-old Baleigh Bagshaw in Salt Lake City was taken into custody, reported Fox 13.
According to the Salt Lake City Police Department, at around 11:00 a.m. Wednesday, law enforcement officials in Colorado took 24-year-old Shaun French into custody without incident.
Police officially named French as a suspect in the homicide. He originally had a warrant out for his arrest for unlawful sexual acts with a minor.
Officials said French had a previous sexual relationship with Bagshaw and had lived in her home for a time. French was not living in the home when the homicide occurred.
French is being held in Colorado pending extradition to Utah. He was held for charges related to unlawful sexual acts with a minor. Additional charges were pending at the time of this report.
Police said a combination of tips and detective work led authorities to French’s location.
Today OCSO and CSP stopped and arrested Shaun French age 24 at Hwy 50 / CR 13. French was wanted out of Utah on sex assault charges. Thanks to @CSP_LaJunta and @PuebloCountySO for assistance. @OteroSheriff pic.twitter.com/nOpa2guON5
— Otero County Undersheriff – Colorado (@CountyOtero) May 9, 2018