Rancher's eagle eye ends Utah-Nevada crime spree

January 4, 2012 - 3:05 AM
Crime Spree Double Homicide

Two images provided by the San Pete County Sheriff shows Angela Atwood, 25, left, and Logan Welles McFarland, 24. The two were arrested in Nevada on Tuesday Jan. 3, 2012 in the killing of an elderly Utah couple and the shooting of a woman outside a Nevada casino. (AP Photo/San Pete Sheriff)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — With a plane circling overhead and police on the ground, Logan McFarland and Angela Atwood ended an intensive four-day manhunt by telling officers, "We give up."

McFarland, 24, and Atwood, 25, surrendered Tuesday in a desolate part of Nevada on suspicion of killing an elderly Utah couple, driving to Nevada in a stolen car, then shooting a woman during a botched carjacking.

The Fairview, Utah, pair were "pretty calm" when they were arrested walking in sagebrush country a few miles south of Oasis, Nev., said Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Jim Stewart.

Rancher and Elko County Commissioner Demar Dahl, also a pilot, said he knew the suspects could be in the area and kept an eye open for them while surveying his cattle herd from the air.

"We flew and looked, and sure enough we found them," Dahl told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "It was just lucky we found them."

The suspects' stolen vehicle had not been located, and police believe it may have broken down in the mountains south of Interstate 80, not far from where they ditched police during a high-speed chase Saturday.

On Sunday, authorities issued an arrest warrant for McFarland in the burglary of the Utah couple's Mount Pleasant home. He was charged the same day.

Authorities suspect McFarland and Atwood are responsible for the killings, and the carjacking and shooting of the West Wendover, Nev., woman, who is recovering at a Salt Lake City hospital, but they had not been formally charged with those crimes.

Federal marshals said they would drop a charge of unlawful flight to let state authorities take over the case.

McFarland has a recent criminal history that includes drug and theft charges, according to the Utah state courts database. He was released Oct. 10 after spending a month in jail for a conviction of theft by receiving stolen property — a supply of copper cables. He was supposed to pay a $500 fine in monthly installments. In August, he was arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia. That charge was dismissed a month later by prosecutors.

Atwood has some minor offenses listed in court records.

Her parents believe she was an unwilling participant in the crime spree, the Salt Lake Tribune reported. They reacted in joy at the news she was arrested and safe. Neighbors told the AP that the parents, Mike and Denise Atwood, immediately drove to the Elko, Nev., jail.

"I believe that Logan has held her hostage, that he has held her so scared that she hasn't been able to do anything but follow him," Denise Atwood told the newspaper. She said Angela Atwood was engaged to a different man, a former U.S. Marine, and Atwood's relationship with McFarland was unclear.

No phone listing could immediately be found for McFarland's parents.

Police said a witness told them McFarland bragged at a Friday night party about obtaining money and firearms.

Jewelry and other stolen items from the home of the Utah couple, LeRoy and Ann Fullwood, were found in the trunk of the first car the suspects took from the host of the Friday night party, police said.

The items led police in West Wendover to the Fullwoods' home, where the couple were found shot to death Saturday.

The car was ditched about 45 miles away and a stolen Saturn sedan was allegedly used to drive to West Wendover where police say they shot and wounded a woman in an attempted carjacking. A receipt from a fast-food restaurant found in the car indicated the meal was paid for with LeRoy Fullwood's stolen credit card, according to the warrant filed in court Tuesday.

A gray Volkswagen Jetta was then stolen from a motel parking lot. McFarland and Atwood were last seen in the car Saturday, leading police on a 50-mile chase at speeds up to 100 mph before turning off I-80 and fleeing into the hills.

In Mount Pleasant, about 100 miles south of Salt Lake City, people were locking their doors, a neighbor of the Fullwoods, Coleen Oltrogge, said Tuesday.

"People are concerned, worried and upset," Oltrogge said. "There's lots of retired people out here in Mount Pleasant. It's a loving and caring town. This is a real shock to everybody."

LeRoy Fullwood, 70, a retired barber, and his 69-year-old wife, a retired schoolteacher, moved to the town a few years ago and were volunteers at a Mormon temple in nearby Manti, she said.

"They were wonderful, caring and loving," said Oltrogge, a Mount Pleasant city council member. "We're trying to look at any little thing that could cause this — a motive. We just don't know."

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Associated Press writer Sandra Chereb in Carson City, Nev., contributed to this report.