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The details of Deborah Jones heinous murder brought family and friends of the 50-year-old woman to tears in federal court on Wednesday.
Three years after the Salt Lake City nurse's death, the case isn't any easier to understand: Kidnapped by a deranged boyfriend who believed holding her in captivity would rekindle her affection for him. Strangled and stuffed into a large plastic container, with a tarp, towels and sticks of deodorant placed over her body. And lastly, driven 1,800 miles from Utah to Missouri where authorities discovered her body in the trunk of a car in a motel parking lot on April 21, 2008.
The man responsible for the crimes pleaded guilty Wednesday to kidnapping and was immediately sentenced to a 30-year prison term by U.S. District Court Judge Dee Benson.
Prosecutors called 51-year-old Michael Jerome Doyel a "sociopath" and revealed the man has been investigated for preying on other women whose names they believe he may have carved into his skin.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Carlos Esqueda said investigators discovered Doyel had carved "Deborah Jones" into his arm and they noticed the scars of other faded names. Investigators wondered if Doyel had encountered and killed other victims, in part because of his track record of manipulating women before stealing their credit cards and bilking them out of money. The pattern of fraud had landed Doyel in prison once before.
So far, Esqueda said, the search for other victims has been fruitless.
"We tried to look into that," Esqueda said of other victims. "Unfortunately, the scars were so old we could not identify any names and we couldn't link him to any other missing persons."
Outside the courthouse, Jones' sons, Bryan and Jeff, said they're glad their mother's killer will never be free.
"He's guilty and he's scum. He has cancer and I hope it eats him alive. That's all I have to say about it," said Bryan Jones, 29.
Jeff Jones, 27, said Doyel has torn the family apart.
"He has changed how I trust people and my general outlook on life. He's pathetic," said Jeff Jones. "He didn't bring anything positive into this world and he took something we really treasured."
As part of a plea agreement, Doyel will plead guilty to first-degree felony murder in a state case pending against him in 3rd District Court.
That means if he is still alive following his 30 years in federal prison, he will return to Utah to serve time for the state case.
Doyel is expected to enter a plea Jan. 6 in state court. He faces 15 years to life in prison when sentenced by Judge Judith Atherton.
The defendant said little in court Wednesday, but defense attorney Todd Utzinger, apologized on Doyel's behalf.
Doyel, himself, told the court: "I don't think I want to be in society for what I did wrong."
Doyel's kidnapping charge could have led to the federal death penalty, as the crime resulted in Jones' death. But former U.S. Attorney for Utah Brett Tolman decided in May 2008 to not seek the Doyel's execution.
Challenges to Doyel's mental competency have delayed both the federal and state court cases. But in August, Atherton ruled Doyel competent to stand trial following treatment at the Utah State Hospital, allowing his case to finally move forward in state court.
Jones' death came after she and Doyel, her ex-boyfriend, ended a rocky courtship.
Jones had filed complaints with the Salt Lake City Police Department that Doyel had been harassing her following a breakup. The two had lived together for six months before ending their relationship in early April 2008, according to court documents.
Police said Jones' body showed signs of strangulation and blunt force trauma. In an interview with police, Doyel said Jones was strangled but did not admit to committing the act himself, according to charging documents.
Doyel admitted to purchasing the plastic storage container, tarp and rope and said he later used those items to cover Jones' body, according to charges. Doyel told police he drove with the body from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas and then to Missouri, in the victim's car, charges state.
In a strange sidelight to the story, Doyel was found at a Missouri motel with 60-year-old West Valley City resident Patricia Murray. Murray had been ruled by the courts as incompetent to care for herself, and Doyel did not have permission to take her from the care center to Missouri, according to court documents.
Jones' friend, Janeen Dwyer, said Wednesday she is relieved the case is over so Jones can remembered for the good person she was, as opposed to the violent way she died.
"What he did to our friend was terrible. Now Deb can rest in peace. We miss her, we love her and we're going to all stay close together," Dwyer said, placing her arms around Jones' sons. "Now we can remember the good things about Deb and not have to worry about the person who killed her."
On the Web
O To see a video of the reaction from Michael Doyel's defense attorney, visit > bit.ly/t9hrBx
About the case
Michael Jerome Doyel and Deborah Jones lived together for six months.
Soon after the breakup, Jones complained to authorities that Doyel was harassing her.
Jones was last seen alive at a Salt Lake City restaurant April 16, according to a federal complaint.
Jones was last heard from April 18 when she called a friend on her cellphone.
At a May 2008 court appearance, Doyel pretended he believed Jones was alive. As charges were read against him, Doyel said out loud: "That's not true, this is a lie." Seconds later, he added: "She's alive. She should be here any minute." And then: "Where's she at?" Prosecutors called the behavior part of a scheme by Doyel to appear incompetent.