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Utah man accused of kidnapping Snow College woman faces felony charges

A Utah man accused of sexually assaulting a Snow College student while holding her against her will for several days faces felony charges. Brent Neil Brown, 39, of Loa, is charged with aggravated kidnapping, rape, object rape and aggravated sexual assault, all first-degree felonies.
A police vehicle is pictured on Tuesday, March 9, 2021.
Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

A Utah man accused of sexually assaulting a Snow College student while holding her against her will for several days faces felony charges in 6th District Court.

Brent Neil Brown, 39, of Loa, is charged with aggravated kidnapping, rape, object rape and aggravated sexual assault, all first-degree felonies. He also faces second-degree felony counts of aggravated assault and obstructing justice.

Brown picked up the 19-year-old woman, whom he had met on an app, from the college on the night of Dec. 13 and drove her to his parents’ house in Loa. While the woman is believed to have initially gone willingly with Brown, charging documents say she was not allowed to leave.

Her disappearance prompted a nearly weeklong search.

Text messages recovered from the woman’s phone indicate that she may have been “exposed to dangerous individuals with violent tendencies,” court documents say.

About 7:20 a.m. on Dec. 14 a text message was sent from the woman’s phone to one of her parents. The text expressed her love for the parent but provided no additional details. The woman’s parents contacted Verizon and learned the text was sent from Loa, about 87 miles south of the Snow campus in Ephraim, according to court documents. The woman did not own or have access to a car.

After pinging the woman’s phone, police launched “an extensive search” in the Loa area, according to the charges. Investigators believed that based on the intermittent signals they were getting, her phone was being turned on and off.

When police came to Brown’s residence last Saturday, he refused to allow officers inside to search, the charges state. After obtaining permission from the homeowners, police entered and “quickly found a Snow College ID” belonging to the missing woman.

“A gun was located in an open suitcase that contained clothes that appear to belong to (the woman),” the court documents state. Officers also found three knives upon searching Brown.

Brown was detained as detectives continued a more extensive search of the house.

During a police interview, Brown admitted to picking up the woman in Ephraim on Dec. 13 but claimed that taking her phone from her and turning it off was part of a game, according to the charges. Police say Brown told them he would tie the woman up during the day when he went to work.

After seeing a news report about the missing woman, Brown told police he threw her cell phone into the trash at a local store. However, he told her he had shipped it to Arizona, according to the charges.

The woman told police she was held against her will after Brown picked her up Dec. 13. She told police that by the next day “she realized the situation she was in and began worrying she would not be able to leave,” according to the charges.

Brown allowed the woman to text her parents that morning to say “I love you” before taking her phone away again and turning it off, police say. Brown also made threats against the woman’s family if she “told anyone about him,” the charges state.

The woman told detectives that Brown always wore a large knife around his belt, was larger than her, and easily overpowered her and assaulted her multiple times, according to charging documents. Police described Brown as 6 feet 2 inches.

Court records show Brown was charged with witness tampering in Box Elder County in 2017. After he failed to appear for a court hearing in March 2018, a warrant was issued for his arrest and was still in place when he was arrested Sunday. Brown is accused in that case of texting a victim in another case and telling that person not to testify in court against his friend.

Brown was also convicted of simple assault in 2001.