SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah police have tracked the cold case killing of a 28-year-old man found shot to death in a canyon in 1980 to a prison inmate convicted in a California murder and executed more than a decade ago, authorities said Friday.
Investigators confirmed through ballistic evidence that Stephen Wayne Anderson shot Timothy Glashien during a drug deal gone wrong, Salt Lake County police said.
Anderson told police he shot Glashien some 35 years ago, but no charges were ever filed in Utah, perhaps because detectives thought he might have been covering for someone else, said Unified Detective Ben Pender. Anderson later testified in 1999 that he did not kill Glashien, only drove him up the canyon, according to court documents.
A newly formed Utah cold case unit confirmed that details of Anderson's original story matched the crime scene earlier this year. Prosecutors affirmed there would have been enough to charge Anderson and another man, Ace Fairbanks, in the death.
Police say Glashien wanted to buy a large amount of marijuana from Fairbanks, who knew Anderson from prison.
But the pair got suspicious that the 28-year-old man would rat them out to the police. Instead of selling him the pot, they drove him up the canyon near Salt Lake City and Anderson shot him, police said. He was found the next day by people looking for aluminum cans.
Anderson had been hiding out in Millcreek Canyon months after escaping from the Utah State Prison, where he also killed a fellow inmate, police said. After Glashien's death, Anderson fled to California, where he was convicted of shooting 81-year-old widow Elizabeth Lyman in the face during a burglary, then fixing himself a meal of noodles in her kitchen.
The gun used in the burglary matched shell casings and bullet fragments at the scene of Glashien's death, police said. Anderson testified that he got the weapon after the killing, according to court documents provided by his lawyer, Margo Rocconi. Rocconi didn't have further comment on Friday's announcement.
While imprisoned in California, he told authorities about the Utah deaths as well as six contract hits in Nevada; although it wasn't clear the Nevada killings really happened.
Glashien's death was described as a contract killing by California prosecutors who used it to bolster their argument that he was a callous killer who deserved the death penalty.
His defenders, though, said the woman's death was a mundane burglary gone wrong, and Anderson was the victim of a harsh childhood who became an accomplished poet in prison.
Anderson was executed in 2002 at age 48.
Fairbanks, meanwhile, died of a heart attack in Iowa in 1986, police said. No attorney was listed for him in Utah court records.
The victim's brother, Edward Glashien, said Friday that the closure of the case answers lingering questions for the family. His brother was well-liked man who marched to the beat of his own drummer, he said.
His death "aged my parents so much, I think it put them in an early grave," he said.
This story has been corrected to reflect that the victim was 28 years old, not 22, according to family members.