Facebook Twitter



When Deolyn Oliver's phone line went dead late Wednesday, a friend on the other end suspected she was in danger.

The woman, perhaps familiar with Oliver's history as a victim of domestic abuse, called 911.Salt Lake County deputies arrived about 9:50 p.m. to find Oliver dead, lying in the bedroom of her apartment at 209 E. Nicoletti Drive (7270 South). Her husband was on the telephone, and a rifle was found next to the woman's body.

Gary Oliver, 43, initially refused to talk to the deputies, saying he had already spoken with his attorney. He was arrested and remained in the Salt Lake County Jail Thursday for investigation of murder.

An autopsy is planned, but investigators say Deolyn Oliver appeared to have died from a single gunshot wound to the abdomen.

The 35-year-old Union woman is the second person to die this week as a result of a domestic dispute.

Monday, 22-year-old Brandon Sweat was stabbed to death while trying to intervene in a fight between a man and his ex-wife. The divorced couple had apparently decided to reconcile and had been together about a week when they got into a fight Monday night.

Friends of the woman came to her Holladay apartment and were helping her and her three children leave when Sweat was stabbed once in the chest with a butcher knife. The woman's husband, Max Andrew Johnson Jr., was booked into jail for investigation of murder.

Like her Holladay counterpart, Oliver had previously left her husband and their stormy marriage, but she later went back to him.

"Those are the alarming details - women who know they are in violent relationships," said sheriff's spokesman Deputy Rod Norton. "We need to help them break the cycle. The critical point is so many of these battered women . . . they can't break that security."

As in most cases of domestic dispute, Wednesday night was not the first time deputies were called to the apartment. They responded to family fights and related matters three times at the residence in 1993. This year, they were called there in February to investigate property destruction.

It appeared that Gary Oliver had been drinking heavily Wednesday night, Norton said. Neighbors identified him as the former manager of a Midvale saloon, where Deolyn Oliver was still employed.

Most of people living on Nicoletti Drive knew where the couple worked and knew them by sight, but said they kept to themselves.

Next door, Elgin Hokanson, 64, was watching television with his wife when he heard what sounded like several pops. Dismissing it as fireworks, the couple went to bed. But later as they congregated outside with other neighbors after sheriff's deputies and an ambulance arrived, they realized those "fireworks" had been shots. They watched as deputies took their neighbor into custody and recovered the body of his wife.

"I thought it to be one shot and three more scattered out," Hokanson said. "I was afraid, hearing those shots, that they were all dead."

Thursday night, the Oliver couple's black Lincoln Town Car and new Jeep Wagoneer were cordoned off behind the yellow police tape. Their duplex apartment was dark, except for a porch light left on from the night before.

Other neighbors could say little of the Olivers. Most agreed they were distant.

"I don't think anyone in the neighborhood knew them well - they had their own clique of friends," said a woman who lived across the street from the duplex.

"They've had a little bit of family fighting," Hokanson said. "(Gary Oliver) told me a while back he was going to move to St. George."