A 19-year-old University of Utah student was killed Friday in what police are calling a domestic violence situation.
The woman, an international student from China, was found dead in a Salt Lake City motel room, police said. She is the second Chinese student at the U. to be killed in less than five years. Previously, ChenWei Guo was shot on the east side of campus in October 2017.
During the same period, three female students have already died as a result of domestic violence. Another woman, who was employed at the University, was killed by her ex-husband in a campus parking lot in 2016.
In connection with the student’s death on Friday, officers arrested a 26-year-old man, also an international student at the University of China, a school spokesperson confirmed.
“The death of any young person entering adulthood is devastating,” Security Director Keith Squires and Vice President of Student Affairs Lori McDonald said in a letter sent to students on Friday. “On behalf of the university, we express our sincere grief and sympathy to the family, friends and classmates of the victim during this incredibly difficult time.”
The woman was found dead at a Quality Inn at 616 South 200 West during a wellness check by Salt Lake City police, in a room registered in the man’s name. Officers had been called there after the U. alerted them that the man had allegedly made threats against the woman, whom he identified as his girlfriend.
His name has not yet been released as officers are working to notify his family. The Salt Lake Tribune does not name the man, who has not been charged.
According to a probable cause statement, the man emailed a University of Utah employee saying he had injected the victim with drugs to “relieve him from his suffering.” The email said the couple would be dead before they were found.
Salt Lake City Police, assisting officers from the University of Utah, arrived at the Quality Inn after contacting the location of the woman’s cell phone. They found the suspect in the room with the victim’s body, police said.
The suspect allegedly told police that he and the woman planned to kill themselves together and that he ordered drugs on the “black net,” according to the probable cause statement. The suspect said the two took these drugs and the woman became unconscious.
He said he then injected her with more drugs and the woman died, according to the document. The suspect then gave himself an injection and remained in the room until police arrived, he told police.
Salt Lake City homicide detectives continue to investigate.
Court records show the man had already been charged with one count of assault for domestic violence in mid-January.
According to the documents, the suspect allegedly assaulted someone on Jan. 12 at 171 W. 500 South, minutes from the location of the motel he was found at on Friday. He was due to appear in court on the charge on February 16.
The response and history of the U.
In their statement on Friday, Squires and McDonald of the U. said the campus would mourn the loss of the 19-year-old student.
“We know this news is difficult to process and will affect members of our campus community – especially those who are survivors or relatives of survivors of domestic violence,” they added.
The school said anyone in need of resources can contact the counseling center at U. at 801-581-6826 or the Center for Student Wellness, which has victim and survivor advocates, at 801-581-7776.
READ. also said international students who are concerned can contact International Student and Scholar Services by calling 801-581-8876 or emailing [email protected]
“Unfortunately, domestic violence is more prevalent than many of us realize, even among students,” reads the letter to students.
The student’s death is at least the eighth high-profile murder or death of a student or staff member at U. since 2016. Four of those previously killed were women, all of whose deaths were related to domestic violence.
• In December 2016, U staff member Katherine Peralta was killed in a campus parking lot by her husband after she told him she planned to file for divorce.
• Student-athlete Lauren McCluskey was shot outside the dorms in October 2018 by a man she had briefly dated.
• Resident doctor Sarah Hawley was shot and killed by her boyfriend in their home in January 2019.
• And MacKenzie Lueck, a 23-year-old college kinesiology student, was killed in June 2019 by a man she communicated with on a dating app.
In October 2017, 23-year-old Guo, a computer science student from China, was killed in a carjacking.
He was sitting in the dirt parking lot at Red Butte Canyon with a friend. Austin Boutain, 24, has since pleaded guilty to shooting the car Guo was in five times, striking and killing the student. Boutain then ordered the passenger out of the car and fired his gun at her as she ran, but he missed.
Boutain agreed to be sentenced to spend the rest of his life in Utah State Prison.
Two other students from the U. also recently killed: Aaron Lowe and Ty Jordan, both football players. Jordan died in December 2020 from an accidental, self-inflicted gunshot wound near his home in Denton, Texas; Lowe was shot and killed outside a party in Salt Lake City in September 2021.
Editor’s Note • Those who are victims of domestic violence or know someone who is a victim are urged to call the Utah Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-897-LINK (5465), or the Utah Rape and Sexual Assault Crisis, 1-888-421-1100. If you or people you know are at risk of self-harm, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24-hour assistance at 1-800-273-8255.