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Texas man charged in S.L. murder, kidnapping

A Houston man facing the death penalty in Texas for killing a Salt Lake toddler now faces additional murder and kidnapping charges in Utah. Brit A. Ripowski, 27, was charged Wednesday with first-degree felony murder and aggravated kidnapping charges.

He is charged with killing Monica Frome, 29, in her Salt Lake apartment on Dec. 21, then kidnapping her 2-year-old daughter, Dominique Frome, and taking her to Texas.Monica Frome's battered body was found in a shallow grave off U.S. 666 east of Monticello the next day. A white teddy bear and bloody coat lying off the side of the road attracted the attention of some passersby, who reported their find.

Police found Monica Frome's body in a grave covered with leaves and twigs. An autopsy determined she died of suffocation and blunt force trauma.

The body bore no identification, and San Juan County Sheriff Mike Lacy released a composite drawing of her that was eventually identified by her landlord.

"We went up (to Salt Lake) and looked at where she was living and found the crime scene," said Lacy. Since the apartment was in Salt Lake, Lacy turned the case over to local police.

After identifying Monica Frome's body, police tracked Ripowski to Houston, Texas, in their search for her daughter. Houston police reported Ripowski eventually led them to the girl's body, stuffed in a suitcase and buried near a highway.

Police believe Ripowski suffocated the girl in his Houston apartment, then buried her in a wooded area out of the city.

According to the charges filed by the Salt Lake District Attorney's office, Ripowski admitted to investigators on Jan. 22 that he suffocated Monica Frome in her North Redwood apartment.

"After killing Monica, he took her body and her 2-year-old daughter, Dominique Frome, from the apartment and drove to Houston, Texas, so no one would know what happened to Monica," according to the charges.

"On the way he deposited Monica's body off of Route 666 near Monticello, Utah. He continued to Houston, Texas, where he subsequently strangled and killed Dominique," the charges state.

Frome had sought a protective order against Ripowski in October after she was injured during an argument with him, according to court records. When Frome didn't show for a Nov. 10 court hearing, the protective order was dismissed.