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The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole has denied parole to a man who killed his girlfriend in 1997 and dumped her body in Spanish Fork Canyon.
Michael Jay Patterson who also shot and wounded the girlfriend's roommate appeared before the parole board last week. Under the decision, he will have to serve his entire 20-year prison term and will be released when his sentence expires in August 2017.
According to investigators, Patterson and girlfriend Stephanie Ann Woolfork, along with three friends, drove to American Fork on July 23, 1997, to visit an acquaintance. Sometime in the next two days, the 18-year-old Woolfork disappeared.
Patterson showed up at his girlfriend's apartment in Salt Lake City on July 25, 1997, and asked her roommate, Alexis Caldwell, where Woolfork was. When Caldwell said she thought Woolfork was with him, Patterson shot her, investigators say.
Woolfork's body was discovered Aug. 24, 1997, in a culvert near Thistle in Spanish Fork Canyon by two teenage mountain bikers.
Patterson, now 37, pleaded guilty in 4th District Court to manslaughter in Woolfork's death and guilty in 3rd District Court to attempted murder in Caldwell's shooting.
He received concurrent terms of 1 to 15 years on each count, and a gun enhancement tacked on to the shooting charge boosted the sentence to a maximum of 20 years.
At a parole hearing last week, Patterson, when asked if he should be released, said: "I feel maybe this could be excused. I feel that it's been a long time since I knew life on the streets."
Toledo Woolfork, Stephanie Woolfork's mother, spoke against release at the hearing.
"I have seen very little change in Mr. Patterson," she said. "I have not seen any remorse or anything. He doesn't deserve to be out in public."
In response, Patterson said, "I know that she is kind of fretful about what happened. But it's been 20 years being locked down and maybe a change of attitude took place. I do actually understand the crime that I did and I know why it happened."
Patterson who acknowledged having mental health problems but claimed it has been years since he heard voices in his head said there were "sources" involved in his case "like laws and powers and things that could talk to your mind."
"It seemed like the whole world was watching or something and it seemed like it was a setup," he said. "I don't know what you could find out. I am ready to leave, though."