Heidi Jones-Asay was just four years old when she woke up to find her mother dead, in a pool of blood, in the living room. But the memory of that morning – July 30, 1970 – is still clear in her mind.
"When I got up, I looked through the keyhole into the front room and when I opened the door, there was blood everywhere," Jones-Asay told Exhumed. "It was my mum's lifeless body."
The little girl ran out of the house, in the small Utah town of Price, and saw a boy on his front lawn.
"I think my mummy is dead," she told him.
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The police were called to the crime scene. Loretta Jones had been raped, and she had been stabbed 17 times, including 14 times in her back. Her throat had been cut. But she had almost no defensive wounds, and her daughter hadn’t heard her screaming during the attack.
It seemed that she had stayed quiet because she was afraid that if she woke her daughter, the little girl might come running out and be attacked herself.
Jones was 23 when she died. The single mum and her only child had been close.
"We played games together," Jones-Asay later told the Deseret News. "We went and got ice cream together."
The little girl went to live with her grandmother. She started talking about a man called Tom, who was her mum’s friend. She said she’d heard Tom say he was going to kill her mother.
"Tom is going to come get me," she told her grandmother.
The grandmother told police. They read Jones’ diaries and found she had dated a man called Tom Egley for a couple of months. Egley was a drifter who lived in a nearby town, Helper, with his pregnant girlfriend. When questioned by police, Egley denied murdering Jones. The owner of a bar in Helper said she’d seen him late on the night of the murder, and he’d had red spots on his shirt.
The same night that Jones was murdered, just an hour earlier, a 10-year-old girl living nearby, Lori Kulow Fennel, had been riding her bike in the street when a man had grabbed her from behind and put his hand over her mouth. She’d spat her bubblegum into his hand, he’d let go, and she’d managed to escape.