DRAPER — In the hours before he gunned down Memorez Rackley and her two sons on a Sandy street, killing the woman and one of the boys, Jeremy Patterson texted a former friend explaining what he intended to do.
The woman, who knew Patterson through his ex-wife and asked to remain anonymous, told the Deseret News Wednesday she was baffled by the texts she received years after not talking to Patterson.
"I was wondering why he reached out to me," the woman said.
The woman described the texts as "matter of fact" and an explanation of what he planned to do rather than any kind of a plea for help.
She also doesn't believe she's the only person who received messages from Patterson warning of the attack.
"I imagine I'm not the only female he reached out to," she said.
Concerned, the woman called a general phone number for police in Draper, the last place she had known Patterson to live, asking to anonymously report what she had been told because she feared she might be in danger.
According to a police report obtained through records requests, the woman told police at about 12:30 p.m. on June 6 — just over three hours before the shooting — that Patterson had contacted her the day before telling her he planned to kill a girlfriend he had just broken up with and then kill himself. She didn't know his address.
The tipster also told police she had told a member of Patterson's family about the messages, but she didn't know whether they had reached out to police. She told the Deseret News that Patterson's sister had said the family was aware of how Patterson was acting.
Needing more information, the report indicates police tried calling the woman back but couldn't reach her, and that there were too many men named Jeremy Patterson in the state to figure out which one she was referring to.
"The information that we received was very, very limited," said Draper's deputy police chief, John Eining. "We didn't have any information on the caller, we didn't have any information on who the girlfriend was, we didn't even have any good information on the Jeremy Patterson. All we were finding out is it was just a Jeremy Patterson, we didn't know who that might be."
The officer tried multiple times to contact the tipster, never reaching her, Eining said.
The woman said she didn't have any missed calls or voicemails suggesting police tried to talk to her.
According to police and witnesses, Patterson had gone to Rackley's neighborhood June 6 and confronted her as she walked her two youngest sons home from Brookwood Elementary School, prompting her to seek help from an unidentified "good Samaritan" also in the area picking up children from school.
When Patterson came back moments later, the SUV drove off with Patterson's pickup truck in pursuit, until Patterson rammed the vehicle and disabled it. He then jumped out of the truck, opening fire, before taking his own life.
A spokesman for the Rackley family said Tuesday that 11-year-old Myles remained hospitalized but is continuing to improve from a single gunshot that struck him in the neck, exiting cleanly near his jaw.
The details of Rackley and Patterson's relationship, and why it apparently ended, are unclear. In threatening social media posts in the days leading up the attack, Patterson wrote that he loved Rackley but was upset the woman had kept their six-month relationship a secret. Rackley and her husband had quietly separated months prior to the shooting but continued living in close proximity and remained in close contact as they jointly raised their three sons.
Looking back, Eining acknowledges the anonymous tip could have been handled differently. Police could have asked for the woman's name but still allowed her to remain anonymous.
"It's critical for us to be able to take the appropriate action and be able to complete a thorough investigation to get as much information as we possibly can," Eining said. "If we had had this person's name … we could have made contact, we could have gotten much more detailed information."
Eining said it seems the threats revealed by the tipster match those that Rackley reported to Sandy police on June 3.
According to Sandy police records, Rackley called 911 after hours of threats, harassment and stalking by Patterson, warning that he had guns and was going to harm her and her children.
"He won't stop, and it's getting to the point that he has threatened me, he has threatened the safety of my children, and I just don't know what to do," Rackley said in a recording of that call.
Initially, Rackley declined to provide the dispatcher with Patterson's name, saying she feared that if police contacted him, "he's going to come hunt me and my kids down."
Rackley called Sandy police twice more that day, ultimately reporting Patterson's name and asking officers to reach out to him after he followed a friend of hers home from work, the report states.
When he was contacted by police, Patterson said he and Rackley had broken up the day before and he had tried to find Rackley to talk to her about it. He told the officer he would stop contacting her.
The next contact police had with Rackley was a 911 call moments before Patterson killed her.
Sandy Police Sgt. James Nielsen said Wednesday that according to department procedure, officers did not reach out to police in Draper after talking to Patterson to inform them of the situation.
Because Patterson and Rackley hadn't lived together, Nielsen said, Rackley's 911 call reporting the threats were not treated as a domestic dispute, but as a case of telephone harassment.
Free and confidential help and support for victims and survivors of domestic violence is available 24/7 at 1-800-897-LINK (5465) or visiting udvc.org.