OREM — A Smithfield man has been charged with murdering his former live-in girlfriend and her 3-year-old son who have been missing from Orem since 2015.
Christopher Richard Poulson, 28, is accused of killing Emily "Emma" Quijano Almiron, 23, and her young son Gabriel, whose bodies have not been found.
Poulson, 28, was charged Oct. 24 in 4th District Court with the two counts of aggravated murder, a first-degree felony, and obstructing justice, a second-degree felony. An arrest warrant was issued, but the charges were sealed until authorities could find Poulson and arrest him. The documents were unsealed Monday. Poulson was arrested over the weekend in Hawaii.
In a 15-page probable cause statement, investigators outlined the evidence they have been collecting against Poulson for the past two years, and their reasons for filing criminal charges even though the woman and her son remain missing.
"The complete disappearance of Emily and Gabriel and their abandonment of all their property, coupled with (Poulson's) actions and obstructions and lies to police, show that (he) murdered Emily and 3-year-old Gabriel … and then wrapped them in sheets to move their bodies and then buried or otherwise disposed of and concealed their bodies," prosecutors wrote in the charging documents.
"(Poulson) later packed some of their things and drove Emily’s red Toyota Prius to St. George and abandoned it in an attempt to deflect suspicion regarding their disappearance from himself."
Jason Jensen, a private investigator who was hired by Almiron's family in 2015 to help look for her, said her family is "devastated."
"We really didn’t want this to be the outcome,” he said Monday.
But Jensen also added that he was "not surprised at all, not even the slightest” by the accusations against Poulson. He said from the beginning, his claims that Almiron was kicked out of the house and ran away without telling anyone — leaving her family, job and schooling behind — didn't make any sense.
Investigators were able to retrace Poulson's steps by collecting data on the location of his cellphone in 2015. Early on the morning of Sept. 9, 2015, Poulson went "to the area of Wolverine Crossing in Orem by some dumpsters," and to "Black Horse Run in Orem by another dumpster," according to charging documents.
Poulson then went to a Walmart in Springville where he bought "a shovel, work gloves, an energy drink and cigarettes," the charges state. After that, his phone was turned off for three hours, according to prosecutors. When it was turned back on, Poulson was "in the more rural area of Payson."
Police say Poulson used his debit card at Walmart in Lindon on Sept. 20, 2015, to purchase heavy neoprene gloves and bed sheets. When Poulson later met up with an associate at a Provo hotel, he was driving Almiron's car, according to court documents.
On Sept. 11, 2015, authorities believe, based on geolocation data, that Poulson traveled to St. George and had Almiron's phone with him. He then returned to Orem under an assumed name using a shuttle service, court records state.
"Continuing searches of these devices showed several text messages with various people and (Poulson) on his phone in which he is talking about his intent to break up with Emily. No searches or text messages about moving, new jobs, leaving town, or relating to travel were found or made on Emily’s phone," charging documents state.
Police found Almiron's missing car in St. George on April 20, 2016. "The vehicle had been left in a state (with the windows partially down and keys inside) that it could be easily stolen," the charges state.
On Sept. 12, 2015, Almiron's ex-husband, with whom she shared joint custody of Gabriel, reported her missing. A text message from her phone said she had broken up with Poulson on the night of Sept. 8, and had left that night with Gabriel, the charges state.
Almiron's mother told police that on Sept. 10, 2015, she too received text messages from her daughter's phone saying Almiron did not need help watching Gabriel that day.
"None of the text messages spoke about any breakup with (Poulson) or that Emily was moving or leaving town, even temporarily," according to court documents.
Relatives in California and Nevada told police they had not heard from Almiron since Sept. 8, 2015, and employers said she did not show up for work — "which was completely out of character for her," the charges state.
"Soon after Emily was reported as missing, law enforcement contacted (Poulson) who claimed he broke up with Emily because he found some of her drug paraphernalia in their apartment and could not tolerate that," according to charging documents. "(Poulson) went on to tell law enforcement that Emily seemed fine and when she initially left on Sept. 8, 2015, said she would be back in a few days to get the rest of her things."
A former roommate told police that Poulson's drug use increased after Almiron disappeared. Investigators also say Poulson sold his car soon after she disappeared. When detectives tracked down the car and processed it for possible evidence, "suspicious fluids were located in the trunk area. Samples were taken to be tested. A K9 cadaver dog was also brought to the car. The K9 indicated on the trunk area three separate times," prosecutors wrote.
"On April 25, 2016, investigators and the FBI Evidence Team went to (Poulson's) and Emily’s apartment and looked around using an alternate light source. Some suspicious spots were found on the carpet and samples were taken of those spots," the charges state.
On Aug. 24, FBI agents interviewed Poulson again in Logan. He was told about the phone records and that Almiron's vehicle had been found. When the interview was over, agents noted that Poulson "walked to a tree and lay under it for about 15 minutes before walking to the bus," the charges state. A few days later, Poulson left Utah for Hawaii, the charges state.
There was no word Monday when Poulson would be returned to Utah.
A friend of Poulson told FBI agents that another friend had confronted Poulson about killing Almiron in late 2016. Poulson "told her Emily was fine and he had talked to her in 2016 and she was living in California," according to the charges.
In 2014, Poulson pleaded guilty to attempted child abuse. Jensen said it was for an incident with his previous marriage and her child. He was placed on probation and ordered to complete a domestic violence evaluation and treatment, according to court records.
Contributing: Sam Penrod