This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Ogden • Before Alexis Rasmussen's family called to report her missing last September, the teen had already died from a drug overdose and been dumped near the Weber River by the couple she had been baby-sitting for, a prosecutor said Tuesday.
In an afternoon news conference, Weber County Attorney Dee Smith announced criminal charges had been filed against Eric and Dea Millerberg, the couple long suspected in the North Ogden teen's death.
Eric Millerberg is charged with a first-degree felony count of child abuse homicide and felony counts of obstructing justice, unlawful sexual activity with a minor and abuse or desecration of a dead body. His wife faces one count of third-degree felony abuse or desecration of a body.
Search warrants have alleged the couple were supplying Rasmussen drugs in exchange for baby-sitting. But Smith on Tuesday declined to elaborate on many of the details of Rasmussen's death, including who supplied the drugs that killed her and what type of drugs they were. He also declined to explain the sex charge.
"The evidence does not suggest that this was an intentional act to cause her death," Smith said of the homicide charge against Eric Millerberg.
Smith characterized Dea Millerberg's involvement in Rasmussen's death as "minimal."
Smith said Rasmussen's family was briefed last week after the last of the evidence in the case had been reviewed. Attempts to reach the family Tuesday were unsuccessful.
"Now we hope to give the family closure," North Ogden Police Chief Polo Afuvai said.
No one else will be charged, although teens who had knowledge in the case did not initially cooperate with investigators, Smith said.
"Kids were probably worried about some of the things they have been involved in," Smith said.
Rasmussen was last seen Sept. 10 while baby-sitting for the Millerbergs. According to search warrants obtained by ABC 4 News and the Ogden Standard-Examiner newspaper and later sealed by a judge the Millberbergs paid Rasmussen in drugs for baby-sitting.
The Standard-Examiner reported that Dea Millerberg drove the girl to buy $100 worth of prescription medication and a small amount of marijuana on Sept. 10, according to the warrant. The document also quoted two people associated with Eric Millerberg who said they were asked to "bring a car and don't ask any questions" and to help him get rid of something that same night, the document states.
A search warrant said investigators found a car that Eric Millerberg had sold to someone in Utah County and that the carpet had been removed from the car's trunk, ABC 4 News reported.
Rasmussen's mother gave her daughter permission to stay at the Millerbergs' home that night because it was late, police have said. The Millerbergs later told investigators that the teen left between 11 p.m. and midnight to meet a friend at a nearby school, police said.
On Tuesday, Smith said Rasmussen was killed and her body moved to Morgan County late on Sept. 10 or early on Sept. 11.
Rasmussen's family reported her missing the following day.
Eric Millerberg, 36, was sent to prison last year for a probation violation unrelated to Rasmussen's death. Dea Millerberg, meanwhile, remains free on bail as she awaits trial on charges of prescription drug fraud and child endangerment charges also unrelated to the death.
The Millerbergs' two children were taken into state custody after Division of Child and Family Services officials said one of the children had tested positive for drug exposure.
A summons was issued Tuesday for Dea Millerberg, 38, and her first court appearance was scheduled for Feb. 22. Smith said prosecutors were negotiating with her defense attorney for her self surrender and were not planning to seek a warrant for her arrest.
Defense attorney Michael Bouwhuis on Tuesday issued this statement:
"Dea is relieved that we've now reached the point where a charge has been filed in relation to the unfortunate death of Alexis Rasmussen. She has always maintained that she did not cause the death of Alexis Rasmussen, and this charge bears that out. We look forward to receiving discovery from the prosecutors so we can review it and decide how to proceed, a process which may take some time, as the investigation leading up to this point has taken a considerable amount of time.
In the meantime, Dea has been drug-free since her arrest, and has been working closely with DCFS and counselors to get the help she needs to continue in a positive direction. She is very sorry about the untimely death of Alexis Rasmussen and sincerely hopes that the Rasmussen family will someday soon find healing and comfort."