clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Salt Lake man held woman hostage for 2 weeks, police say

William Brunell, 36, of Salt Lake City, was arrested Saturday after police say he held a woman hostage for two weeks in their apartment and assaulted her.
William Brunell, 36, of Salt Lake City, was arrested Saturday after police say he held a woman hostage for two weeks in their apartment and assaulted her.
Salt Lake County Jail

SALT LAKE CITY — Police arrested a Salt Lake man who they say held a woman hostage for two weeks as part of an ongoing abusive relationship.

William Mathew Brunell, 36, of Salt Lake City, who is on the Utah Sex Offender Registry and has had multiple protective orders filed against him since 2007, was arrested Saturday for investigation of aggravated kidnapping, aggravated assault and criminal mischief.

On Saturday, a neighbor of Brunell heard a woman yelling for help and came out to see what was happening.

"William had his hand over the victim's mouth and one arm pinned around behind her back," a Salt Lake County Jail report states.

Brunell claimed the woman was "off her meds" and he was trying to get her back inside the apartment, according to the report. The neighbor, however, felt that something wasn't right and told Brunell to let her go.

"William let go of the victim and she immediately grabbed onto the witnesses' hand forcefully and would not let go," the report states. The woman told responding police officers that "she has been held hostage for the last two weeks."

Brunell allegedly had the woman's keys, cellphone and her wallet in his possession at all times. She told police she had to ask Brunell for permission whenever she wanted to make a phone call and that he would always sleep next to her to prevent her from running away.

Brunell hit the woman's head more than 20 times and would grab her hair "to control her," police wrote. When they went out, Brunell would pin her arm behind her back or "grab her by the neck or hair and yank the way he wants to go," the report states. He also allegedly grabbed her throat at least twice.

Investigators found bruising on the woman's arms, legs and injuries to the back of her head. The woman told police she would pretend to pass out so the attacks would stop.

"As it got worse, the victim then began telling William she was going to get away and she would tell everyone what he was doing and he will go back to prison for the rest of his life. William would say that he would never let her go. William also threatened to kill the dogs if she did not stop resisting and trying to leave," according to the report.

On Saturday, after Brunell fell asleep, the woman said she "made a run for it," and this time the neighbor saw her.

Detectives who later went into the apartment found evidence of a struggle. When interviewed by investigators, Brunell told them that the woman was suicidal and that he was trying to help her, the report states.

Salt Lake police said Tuesday they were continuing to collect evidence in the case.

The woman filed a protective order against Brunell on Monday, according to court records. Three other protective orders have been filed against Brunell, according to court records, two by his former wife in 2015 and one by another woman in 2007.

In 2000, Brunell pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of attempted rape of a child in exchange for another count of rape of a child being dismissed, according to court records. But Brunell consistently failed to comply with the terms of his probation, including registering as a sex offender with the state. In 2011, he was indicted federally for failing to register as a sex offender.

Help for people in abusive relationships can be found by contacting the YWCA's Women in Jeopardy program at 801-537-8600, or the Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-897-LINK (5465).