What’s behind random acts of violence in Utah?

Sep 22, 2022, 6:30 PM

centerville arson fire...

FILE: A Centerville home is engulfed in flames started by an armed home invasion suspect. (Wendi Shegrud)

(Wendi Shegrud)

SALT LAKE CITY — In an act of random violence, a 15-year-old intruder opens an unlocked door and stabs a sleeping couple at 3:50 a.m. Tuesday in Taylorsville. Detectives said the boy was a stranger to the couple and entered the home with the intent to cause violence.

Related: Couple stabbed in Taylorsville home, 15-year-old suspect caught

In July, a stranger broke into a Centerville home and attacked three elderly people, dousing one with gasoline and setting the home ablaze.

The six police officers who entered the burning home were later treated for smoke inhalation. Damage to the home and a nearby motorhome was estimated at $1.2 million. The injuries to the three victims were not considered to be life-threatening, said Centerville Police Lt. Allen Ackerson.

Firefighters battled the blaze for about 45 minutes before knocking it down.

Related: Police say home in Centerville set on fire by armed home-invasion suspect

Random acts of violence and the courts

 KSL legal analyst Greg Skordas joins Dave & Dujanovic to discuss the recent spate of random violence in Utah.

“There’s just a lot of trouble with our youth right now — a lot of mental illness that’s not being properly diagnosed,” Skordas said. “We have these things happening with our young people that are frightening.”

Mental illness is being diagnosed better now,  and that might be why we are seeing it show up in random acts of violence more often, Skordas said.

“Young kids have been committing crimes, not necessarily to this violent of a nature, for decades or centuries, probably,” he said. “But we sort of blamed it on youth and foolishness, and now we’re getting into issues involving mental health.”

“The suspect [in this random act of violence] is just 15 years old, [that’s] one of the most shocking parts of this,” Dave said.

Skordas said it will be difficult to place the suspect in the adult court system. However, that doesn’t mean he will get off easy.

“We do have what we call the Serious Youth Offender Act . . . That allows us to bring younger kids, usually the 16- and 17-year-olds, to enter the adult system for really serious crimes. A 15-year-old is more on the cusp,” Skordas said. ” . . . He could be technically held in custody, juvenile custody, until the age of 21, so it’s not like a slap on the wrist anymore.”

Random acts of violence and ‘The Letter’

Debbie mentioned another case of random violence from 1996, which is the subject of The Letter podcast (first of the two below):

“Yvette Rodier was shot several times by a stranger as she and her good friend Zach set up a camera to take pictures of the moon [at Little Dell Reservoir].” 

“The [gunman] was actually potentially looking to die by suicide, but he decided instead to turn the gun on these two individuals, these young people who were up there that night. Do you see that as a cry for help as crazy as that may seem and sound?” Debbie asked.

“It’s sad,” Skordas said, “but some of these people are just so troubling, so long depressed that something sort of triggers them to get that attention and to get that sort of excitement that they’re missing in their lives.”



Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

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What’s behind random acts of violence in Utah?