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The legal guardian of a 22-year-old disabled Kearns woman who was found dead March 25 has been charged with first-degree felony murder.
The charges filed Friday in 3rd District Court against 27-year-old Cassandra Marie Shepard also include one count of aggravated abuse of a disabled or elder adult, a first-degree felony, and one count of obstructing justice, a second-degree felony.
Friends and family of Christina Harms said she suffered from the effects of fetal alcohol syndrome
The state Office of the Medical Examiner determined Harms' cause of death was homicide by positional asphyxiation.
Other details from the medical examiner's report state Harms' body and head had bruising that was consistent with chronic physical abuse. Her hands and wrists, which were covered with bandages, were severely damaged with the skin falling off, charging documents say. The report stated Harms was fitted with a makeshift diaper.
On March 25 at 3:11 p.m., officers were called to a possible overdose at a Kearns home in the 4900 South block of 5415 West and found Harms unconscious, Unified Police Department reported. She was later pronounced dead.
Police at the scene said Harms' hands were bandaged and she had injuries on her lower legs and ankles. They also found a pepper seed in one of her eyes. While executing a search warrant at the home that same day, police found a shelf near Harms' body with uncut zip ties, more pepper seeds, packaging tape, cleaning supplies and air fresheners.
Next to the shelf, police found a small empty closet, where they believed Harms was strapped, crucifixion style, to a clothes bar with the zip ties. Police said a piece of cardboard stained with blood and urine covered the floor of the closet. The closet had an alarm that activated when the door was opened.
Shepard was arrested Sunday on suspicion of domestic-violence murder of Harms.
Also charged on Friday was Shepard's mother, Sherrie Lynn Beckering, 50, with one count of aggravated abuse of disabled or elder adult, a first-degree felony; and Dale Robert Beckering, 52, Shepard's stepfather, with one count of aggravated abuse of a disabled or elder adult, a second-degree felony. They have lived with Shepard, Harms and three children, including Harms' 2-year-old daughter, in the Kearns home since January.
Two of the children interviewed told police the closet was where Shepard "tied Harms' hands, put tape around her mouth." The children said Harms "never got to come out," charging documents state. One of the children told police Harms was required to eat inside the closet.
Based on the layout of the house, police concluded that anyone in the house would have known what was happening to Harms.