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Dumpster yields body of woman

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Sheree Allen

Sheree Allen

WEST VALLEY CITY — Homicide detectives were looking for a killer Tuesday after the body of a woman, believed to be dead for at least 24 hours, was found in a Dumpster behind a strip mall.

The body of Sheree Allen of Salt Lake City was found about 11:30 p.m. Monday by a man who was searching through a Dumpster near 3500 South and 1500 West.

The man later told police he regularly looks for items thrown away by businesses in the mall. On this night, the man found a garbage bag with a woman's body inside, said West Valley Police Capt. Steve Sandquist. The body was in a fetal position, he said.

Sandquist said Allen, 22, was identified through fingerprint records. She also had several distinguishable tattoos.

The woman had a previous criminal history, Sandquist said.

A court-records search showed Allen was found guilty in March 2004 of attempted forgery and was sentenced to 90 days in jail. She failed to comply with terms of her probation, and a $5,000 warrant was issued Sept. 10, 2004.

In September 2002, Allen, using the name Sheree Green, was convicted of battery and fined $200, according to court records.

A cause of death was determined Tuesday by the State Medical Examiner's Office but was not released by police because of the ongoing investigation. The examiner determined the woman most likely had been dead for between 24 to 72 hours, but the cold weather helped preserve her body, Sandquist said.

The garbage from that Dumpster is emptied every Friday. Detectives believe Allen's body was placed in the Dumpster sometime between Friday afternoon and Monday night.

Police seized the entire Dumpster late Monday. Sandquist would not say whether any additional evidence was found inside.

Several clumps of hair were found in the trash bin, but that came from a nearby hair styling business, Fantastic Sams, which uses the Dumpster on a daily basis.

Fantastic Sams manager Maria Torres said the last time anyone from her business used the Dumpster was about 7:45 p.m. Monday, but no one saw anything out of the ordinary. The person who took the garbage out that night was not tall enough to look inside the Dumpster, she said. That person opened the lid and simply tossed in the garbage.

Torres also noted the area around the Dumpster is poorly lit. She said that area does not get a lot of traffic except one or two transients and people sifting through trash in the Dumpster. The last time Torres spotted a transient there was on Saturday night.

Some of the employees Tuesday said they "freaked out" when they heard a body was found.

"My body went weak," Torres said.

Co-worker Tanya Redmiles said Torres called her early in the morning to tell her about the discovery.

"I thought you were kidding," Redmiles said. "I shot out of bed. I was shaking."

Stephanie Tingey, who works at the nearby Hollywood Connections, said her store empties its trash each day after closing between 1 and 1:30 a.m. On Tuesday morning, however, she said police were already at the trash bin and had blocked off the area.

"It's kinda weird. Scary stuff. I'm freaked out by it," she said.

Some immediately thought of the Lori Hacking slaying upon learning of Monday night's discovery.

Hacking's husband, Mark, is accused of killing her and disposing of her body in a Dumpster. Lori Hacking's body was found more than two months later following an intense search at the Salt Lake landfill.

If the person who found the body in West Valley City hadn't been sifting through the Dumpster, it's possible the body would never have been found.

"It's possible we may never have known," Sandquist said.

The woman may have ended up simply as a missing person as opposed to a homicide case, he said.

Anyone with information on the homicide or who may have seen Allen recently is asked to call West Valley police at 840-4000.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com