Crews Find Body of Missing Teen — (KSL.com)

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KSL.com

Gene Kennedy and Sandra Yi Reporting

July 6, 2006

Searchers have found the body of a missing 16-year-old girl in the hills above Bountiful. Samantha Mikesell, a Viewmont High School student, was last seen on Saturday afternoon.Mikesell was reported missing Sunday night by her parents after she failed to return from work at a local restaurant, Police Chief Paul Rapp said.

The girl’s body was found in Meuller Canyon shortly after the search began this morning. Search dogs found the body a few feet from someone’s backyard.

For six hours last night, police questioned 38-year-old Walter White, who admits he knows Mikesell. He says he went up into the hills with her Saturday.

White told police that he and Mikesell went willingly into the hills and took some pills. Police tell us information from White led them to Mikesell’s body.

Investigators say Mikesell’s body may have been there for two days. Her body had been dragged 60 feet from a makeshift campsite littered with pill bottles.

Lt. Steve Gray: “The marks on her body were consistent with being drug and nothing else. There were no outward signs of violence that you could see.”

As investigators gather more evidence, indications are that the death was possibly due to a drug overdose. There were no clear signs of trauma to Mikesell, no obvious signs that she had been assaulted.

Saturday Mikesell showed up briefly for work. White told police he picked her up. He says they drank and shared his prescription anti-depressants. He denied rumors of a suicide pact.

Lt. Steve Gray: “I believe one of his statements was that they had both taken pills, they had both taken alcohol. He laid back on her lap. He woke up and she didn’t.

Mikesell’s family reported her missing on Sunday, but suspected she was with White. On Tuesday, a Davis County Sheriff’s deputy spotted him getting into his car. He had scratches on his body, police believe from walking through Oak brush.

Lt. Steve Gray: “I was up there and it’s very dense, very thick. If he didn’t have a shirt on, which apparently he didn’t, coming down through there, he would have been all scratched up.”

Mikesell was found in a bra and jeans with alcohol containers around her. There was also a container of the antidepressant Imipramine found nearby. Imipramine can cause a heart flutter.

Lt. Steve Gray: “He could handle it a lot easier than she could. She was a lot smaller, and it could be that, where his system tolerated it, hers didn’t.”

Police don’t believe that White was trying to cover up any kind of crime.

However, White had scratches on his body, and he says he doesn’t remember how he got them.

White was admitted to Bountiful’s Lakeview Hospital by paramedics at 3 a.m. Tuesday, after he was found disoriented and scratched in the woods, Rapp said. The man checked himself out of the hospital on Wednesday.

White checked into the hospital again on Thursday for a psychiatric evaluation. Police had hoped to take him into custody on Thursday to be booked for investigation of obstruction of justice and desecrating a body, but he remained hospitalized in the intensive care unit under police guard, Gray said.

Investigators are talking with the Davis County attorney’s office about the case, but no charges have yet been filed, Rapp said.

Detectives searched White’s house in Woods Cross last night, taking pictures and using plastic gloves to collect evidence. Investigators removed a mattress and a computer from the home.

When the manager at White’s four-plex knocked on his door to collect rent, she became suspicious immediately.

Deborah Jule, 4-Plex Manager: “He looked very skittish, very paranoid. He had scratches on his face.”

Sgt. Gary Koehn, Bountiful Police Dept.: “Detectives noticed he had a large amount of scratches on his body, which made them suspicious. They questioned him. His statement was that he doesn’t remember how he got the scratches. He remembers being with the girl, but doesn’t remember how he got the scratches.”

In Bountiful Canyon, a group playing paintball saw White. They say he was disoriented.

Detectives believe Mikesel and White communicated on the Internet. White is a registered sex offender, convicted of lewdness with a minor in 1996. His family says he drilled holes into his wall to peer into his neighbor’s apartment.

Police say White is cooperating, and so far, his story adds up. But there’s still a lot investigators don’t know. They hope he keeps talking.

Lt. Steve Gray: “If he doesn’t, we’re going to be left with a lot of unanswered questions.”

Police are now awaiting autopsy and toxicology results. But they say, right now, all the evidence points to a drug overdose. Initial autopsy results confirm there was no outside trauma to Mikesell’s body, meaning she did not die a violent death.

(The Associated Press Contributed to this story)