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Police arrest man in death of girl found in Jordan River

Published March 20, 2012 7:18 am

Motive • Officials say victim was assaulted after refusing to have sex with the suspect.
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An ex-con with a number of felony convictions has been arrested in the slaying of a 15-year-old girl whose body was found in the Jordan River last week.

Daniel Robert Lehi Ferry, 31, was booked into jail Monday on suspicion of first-degree felony murder for allegedly killing Riverton teen Annie Kasprzak.

She was last seen on March 10. Her body was found on March 11.

On March 18, Draper police interviewed a witness who saw the suspect physically assault Annie in a home after she refused to have sex with him, according to a probable cause statement filed with the Salt Lake County jail.

The witness saw Ferry take Annie's unconscious body out of the home and place her in a vehicle, according to the statement. Police were able to obtain a search warrant for the home and found blood consistent with that found near a pedestrian bridge over the Jordan River in Draper.

The address of the home where the assault allegedly occurred was redacted from the probable cause statement by jail officials, and they will only say it was in the south Salt Lake Valley.

Ferry, who was apprehended by the Joint Criminal Apprehension Team and Draper police, is being held on suspicion of first-degree felony murder. He also was booked on an outstanding warrant, issued by the West Valley City Justice Court, for no proof of insurance, a class B misdemeanor, and driving with an expired license, a class C misdemeanor.

Annie's parents said they had never heard of Ferry before his arrest.

"We don't know anything about him," said Veronica Kasprzak, Annie's mother.

She and her husband, James Bratcher, said they are in shock — that an arrest was made so soon, that the suspect is a 31-year-old they've never heard of, that their daughter was murdered in the first place. But as allegations unfold, one part does not surprise them a bit: That Annie would not yield to Ferry's threats or advances.

"She would have been a fighter," Bratcher said. "She wouldn't submit to anyone."

A search of Utah court records shows that in 1999, Ferry was sent to the Utah State Prison for up to 15 years after pleading guilty to three felonies: aggravated assault and burglary, and failing to stop at the command of a police officer.

Ferry was paroled three times between 2003 and 2009, and each time was returned to prison for committing violations, according to the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole.

In November 2010, the parole officials terminated Ferry's sentence, meaning he was released without further supervision.

Ferry — listed in recent court records as being a resident of Sandy — is currently charged with multiple counts of possession with intent to distribute and use or possession of drug paraphernalia.

In January, he pleaded guilty to a class A misdemeanor count of attempted failure to respond to the command of a police officer and was sentenced to 12 months good behavior probation.

Annie's parents say they have no idea why their daughter would have been in Ferry's company. They say she spent a quiet evening with them night before her body was found in the Jordan River.

At about 7:30 pm., the girl said she was going downstairs to her bedroom to listen to the radio, Bratcher said.

When her parents went to check on her about 45 minutes later, she was gone.

"We immediately called the police," Bratcher said. "She's a 15-year-old girl. It [was] night."

It was not until 10 a.m. Sunday that a passer-by found blood and a shoe near a footbridge over the Jordan River, near 12600 South in Draper. On Sunday afternoon, officers in a helicopter spotted a body with a matching shoe in the river a bit downstream from the bridge.

Annie's parents have said they are mystified as to why she left the house in the first place.

"There was no fight. She wasn't in trouble," said Veronica Kasprzak-Bratcher during an interview last week. "She wasn't upset, which is why we don't know what was going on."

Annie was reported as a runaway Saturday because there was no sign of an abduction in her home, the parents said.

"There was no sign of struggle," Kasprzak-Bratcher said. "She never ran away overnight. If she got frustrated, she'd take a break. But for Anne to take off at night was very unusual for her. Maybe she wanted to go and meet someone."

Annie's parents concede that her life "was not perfect." They do not discuss her life before she was adopted from the foster system at age 10 — partly, they say, because she would want her privacy, and partly because it doesn't seem to have anything to do with her death.

"It was something she had worked through," Kasprzak-Bratcher said.

Annie was dealt another adjustment when her parents divorced and remarried. The couples live just a few miles apart, and Annie had moved back and forth between the two homes this fall.

"She had her struggles, as most teenagers do," Kasprzak-Bratcher said. "But everything was stable for the last while. There were no issues in at least three or four months. She was doing her homework; she was taken care of and happy.

"Anne was not a bad kid. She's just a regular teenager who for whatever reason left the house and didn't get to come home."

While Annie had a close group of friends, she had no serious boyfriend, her parents said. She was not allowed to date, but she often joined mixed groups of friends. They spent time at parks during summer days, her mother said, but it isn't clear whether they spent time on the river trail.

Annie expressed strong objections to drugs, her stepfather said, so her parents are skeptical they played a role in her disappearance or death.

"Sometimes she might have been too trusting," Kasprzak-Bratcher said. "She so wanted everybody to be OK. She felt anyone could be different, could be better."

Annie transferred to the Summit Academy high school in Bluffdale in the fall, and the charter school was a "better fit" than her previous schools, her parents said.

"She was a bright girl. I wouldn't say she was academically motivated," Annie's mother said. "She always did her homework, but she didn't always turn it in."

smcfarland@sltrib.com Twitter: @sheena5427

Tribune reporter Erin Alberty contributed to this story.






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