TAYLORSVILLE — A drug deal gone bad may have led to the fatal stabbing of an 18-year-old woman along the Jordan River Parkway Wednesday night.
Heather Quast, 18, was stabbed in the abdomen about 8:15 p.m. and later died at Intermountain Medical Center. She was walking off the parkway in a field near 3900 South and 1100 West with Eric Russom, 21, who was stabbed over and around his left eye, according to Taylorsville Police Sgt. Shannon Bennett.
Russom's mother said her son was released from the hospital Thursday but still might lose his eye.
Investigators Thursday said they do not believe the attack was random. Without going into many details, they said the stabbing appears to have been the result of a drug deal, with Quast and Russom allegedly selling drugs to the attackers.
Russom's relatives tearfully told members of the media Thursday that the attackers had pulled a gun and a knife on the two and robbed them of a backpack that contained marijuana and money.
"He tried everything in his power to protect her. He told her to run," said Joseph Russom, Eric's brother, who was not present when the stabbing occurred.
Friends and relatives say Eric Russom put his hands on Quast's stomach to try to stop the bleeding.
"She said, 'I can't breathe,' and that was the last thing she said to him," Joseph Russom tearfully recalled.
Family members say both Quast and Eric Russom had been kicked out of their homes and were surviving on the streets by selling marijuana.
Quast lived in a tent by the Jordan River with a friend, Eric Russom's family members said. Quast's grandmother also said the teen had been asked to leave the house she was living in because of alleged drug dealing.
Eric Russom had been staying at a local rescue mission but recently had been at the tent to watch over Quast.
A woman who identified herself as Russom's mother, but did not want her name used, said the parents were trying to show their children tough love.
"When your kids are doing things and you kick them out, it's not because you don't love them. You're trying to teach them a lesson," she said.
Jesse Estep, a friend of Quast's since eighth grade, said Quast was all about peace and love.
"She would never harm anybody. I just don't understand why it happened," Estep said. "She was so nice. She didn't need to lose her life over marijuana."
Charles Williams, who lives in apartments near the stabbing site, said he walked over to the area Wednesday after seeing an ambulance arrive.
"Just after the ambulance got there, I heard someone — it sounded like a girl — wailing," he said.
Police said because it was dark, the only description of the attackers from witnesses was three Latino males, possibly in their late teens or early 20s, and one of them may have had a tattoo on his neck, Bennett said.
Anyone with information can call police at 801-743-7000.
Contributing: Lana Groves