A 17-year-old boy strangled his cousin last summer in a remote area of Kane County because he was mad at the boy's father, according to a complaint filed Thursday in 6th District Court.
Prosecutors charged Alexander James Bybee with one count of murder, a first-degree felony, in the death of 6-year-old Lance Guevarra of Big Water, Kane County. The charges followed an eight-month investigation that included the Las Vegas Metro Police Department.According to the complaint, Guevarra lived next door to Bybee and had last been seen the evening of Aug. 13, 1996 next door at the teen's trailer. When Guevarra didn't show up at his home, a community-wide search for the boy began in the southern Utah desert, some 65 miles east of Kanab.
That search ended Feb. 7 as the emotionally troubled teen voluntarily showed investigators where he buried the child over a sand hill just west of where the families lived, charges state.
Two days before, Kane County Chief Deputy Sheriff Allen Johnson met with Bybee in a Las Vegas mental-health facility.
After Guevarra's disappearance, Bybee and a brother moved to Las Vegas to live with their father. In January, Bybee attempted to overdose on aspirin and was placed in the treatment center for depression, the complaint states.
Johnson traveled to Las Vegas after a homicide sergeant there called Utah officials with an anonymous tip about a "young man who had confessed to the murder of a young boy in Big Water, Utah," the charges state.
During a two-hour interview with Johnson, Bybee confessed "he carried Lance Guevarra over a sand hill . . . then killed him by strangulation," charges say.
Bybee also told Allen "his reason for killing (him) was to get back at Lance's father," according to the charges. Bybee also told Allen that he buried the child and placed a milk crate over the gravesite.
The family was not available for comment Friday night.
Kane County Attorney Colin Win-chester said the decision to file charges was made even though prosecutors have not yet received reports from the medical examiner's office or the state crime lab.
Those reports, due in a matter of weeks, will indicate whether remains found at the gravesite in February match DNA blood samples provided by Guevarra's parents.
Meantime, a memorial service for Guevarra was held late last month, Winchester said.
"The parents are doing fine, as well as they can be, and there is good community support," Winchester said. "It's been more of an upbeat thing, not so much of grief, but of being positive about what will happen now."
Bybee, who is reportedly related to Guevarra by a polygamist marriage, will be charged as an adult in the case, under the Serious Youth Offender Act, Winchester said. If convicted, the teen could face five years to life in prison.
Winchester said it was too soon to tell if a plea bargain would be offered.
The youth is in the custody of Nevada youth authorities and is expected to waive extradition within the next week, Winchester said. After he comes to Utah, Bybee will then be appointed a legal defender and will likely make an initial court appearance next week.