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2 women gunned down in St. George; police nab 2

Published December 11, 2010 3:20 pm

Crime • Police say evidence points to possible link to drugs.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

St. George • Two men were arrested Saturday in the gun slayings of two women and the wounding of a man at a downtown St. George housing complex.

Police identified the slain women as Jerrica Christensen, 20, of Santa Clara, and Brandie Sue Dawn Jerden, 27, of St. George.

The surviving male victim was identified as James Fiske, 28, of St. George.

St. George police Sgt. Craig Harding said Brandon Perry Smith, 29, and Paul Ashton, 31, both of St. George, were booked into the Purgatory Correctional Facility on Saturday afternoon.

Ashton was being held on suspicion of two counts of aggravated murder and one count of attempted aggravated murder; Smith was booked on suspicion of one count each of aggravated murder and aggravated assault.

Police rushed to the Sunrise Village town home complex at 575 S. Main St. about 3:15 a.m. Officers entered one unit and found the bodies of the women and the wounded man, each in a different room and each of them the apparent victim of gunshot wounds.

The man was taken to Dixie Valley Regional Medical Center, where he was reported to be in serious condition Saturday with a shoulder wound.

"We haven't been able to talk with him yet," Harding said. "He's drugged up pretty good [by doctors], but his injuries are not thought to be life-threatening at this point."

Harding said investigators were increasingly leaning toward the shootings being connected to narcotics, pointing to otherwise unspecified evidence found at the scene.

Meanwhile, curious neighbors drifted by the crime scene throughout the day, and though none knew the victims personally, some said the victims' residence was known for its frequent and numerous visitors.

Tom Laier said he was awaken early Saturday morning by the sound of what seemed like "10 million sirens." He then saw police cordon off a city block with yellow tape. Laier said he was not allowed to leave the scene in his vehicle for several hours.

Others found it hard to believe the shooting happened in normally quiet St. George.

Theresa Bryant said after her brother was murdered in California three years ago, she moved to St. George to get away from the violence.

"I wanted to get away from that [California] scene, hoping it would be quiet here," she lamented.

Jenna Fain said she, too, had moved to St. George — from New York City — thinking it would be quieter.

"Here a murder is rare, unlike New York," she said. "It's sad."






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