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Provo man may have raped, killed aunt to prevent testimony, prosecutors say

Damien Allister Candland
Damien Allister Candland
Utah County Jail

PROVO — A Provo man jailed in connection with his aunt's slaying may have killed her to prevent her from testifying in a pending criminal case, investigators say.

There is also evidence that Damien Candland, 22, raped his aunt, Amy Candland, and desecrated her body, prosecutors said at a bail hearing Tuesday.

Judge Lynn Davis set his bail at $1 million cash and scheduled an initial court appearance next Tuesday. Prosecutors have not yet filed charges.

Damien Candland was scheduled to have a preliminary hearing next Monday along with his father on assault charges related to a fight over a drug debt. Amy Candland, 41, was a witness in that case, prosecutors said.

She told a friend she was "terrified" of her nephew and that she wanted him out of the house they shared, according to a probable cause statement.

"This same friend noted that Damien had been violent with Amy in the past and that she had transported Amy to the hospital to receive treatment for injuries inflicted on her by Damien," the statement says.

Utah County sheriff's deputies responded Sunday to the Jolley's Ranch area of Hobble Creek Canyon, east of Springville, on a report of a body next to a Dumpster.

The body had duct tape around the wrists and a gray cord around the neck, according to the statement. There were abrasions on the face and body and blood on the back of the pants.

Officers found footprints and drag marks that showed the body had been dragged across a creek and up a small hill to the main road.

Amy Candland's brother — Damien Candland's father — identified her and told officers that two blankets found at the scene belonged to his son, the statement says. He told officers his son had a "violent relationship" with his aunt, who worked as a custodian for the Provo School District and Utah Valley Regional Medical Center.

Provo detectives served a search warrant at the house and found wet shoes drying by a heater that matched the footprints. They also found blood in a washroom sink and a roll of duct tape matching the tape on the body.

Initial autopsy results show that Amy Candland suffered hemorrhaging of the neck consistent with strangulation and other injuries consistent with assault and rape, the statement says. Police believe she was killed at the house on Sunday.

She had told police in a previous case that Damien had a temper and she was afraid he would "beat her up," according to the statement.

Damien Candland pleaded guilty last year to charges of theft and drug possession after his aunt told police he stole two checks and took her truck without permission.

He is also charged with misdemeanor assault against an ex-girlfriend.