OGDEN — It’s been an agonizing five weeks, but the family of Lopine “Chynna” Toilolo began to get some answers about what happened to the 30-year-old woman whose body was found in Ogden Canyon last month.
Andy Dennis, 37, was arrested and booked into the Weber County Jail for investigation of murder, as well as two counts of obstruction of justice, according to the Weber County Sheriff’s Office. Dennis and Toilolo were dating, and family members used her phone records to show that she’d been with him at his Pleasant View home before disappearing in the early morning hours of Mother’s Day.
Toilolo’s body was found two days later, on May 14, in Ogden Canyon near the Alaskan Inn.
On Wednesday afternoon, her father, Sefuluai Toilolo, briefly expressed his gratitude for the effort of Weber County Sheriff’s detectives and relief that Dennis had finally been arrested.
“I apologize if I get emotional,” he said, flanked by investigators and his family. “It’s been a long wait for this moment that we’ve been waiting for. I’m not going to say a lot. ... There was a lot of frustration as we waited for this, but the outcome that we waited for, is finally here.”
He continued, “All I can say is that my daughter did not deserve what happened to her. I know, as well, we have, my wife and my family, she’s in a good place. She’s taken care of, and this what we are waiting for, is justice for her and give us some closure as a family.”
He said he appreciated the efforts of investigators who “worked so hard” to be able to make an arrest. The family declined answering any other questions, and police opted not to give much detail into what led to the charges, including how Toilolo was killed.
“(What police believe transpired) is not going to be released because we want to keep the integrity of the case,” said Weber County Sheriff’s Lt. Cortney Ryan. “And going through the court proceedings, we all know that these type of cases and when they get into the court process, a majority of these do go to trial. We want to make sure we keep the integrity of the case so we’re not going to release details of the incident at this time.”
Ryan said Dennis is accused of obstruction for “tampering with witnesses and trying to change stories.”
“Two separate charges,” Ryan said. “Two separate witnesses.”
He said it took five weeks for investigators to secure what they needed to make an arrest and be sure charges accusing Dennis of killing Toilolo could be supported.
“It was an intense investigation, and there were many moving parts,” he said. “We wanted to make sure that the evidence is strong and that ... we have the evidence to support the theories about what happened.”
Ryan said neighbors who heard arguing the morning of May 12 and reported that to police were helpful to investigators in collecting evidence and completing the picture of what happened to Toilolo, who texted her mother that she was on her way home in the early morning hours of May 12.
When she never arrived home, her family tried to enlist the help of police, but because Toilolo was an adult and only missing for a few hours, there wasn’t much police could do.
“We’re very grateful for the cooperation that we’ve had with the family and the community,” Ryan said. “The tips that we’ve received and the patience of the family. This has been a long, trying five weeks for this family, and they’ve been exceptionally patient and understanding of the investigation process.”
For Dennis’ Pleasant View neighbors, his arrest and the allegations against him are unsettling.
“It’s a little shocking,” said Jasmin Barrett, a neighbor who knew Dennis through his children, but didn’t talk to him much. “It’s a little disturbing. I don’t really know what to make of it. ... But just to know that it happened just a few houses down, it’s scary. I have children.”
Contributing: Garna Mejia