Police Arrest Man Sought in Shooting Death of University of Utah Student - Higher Education
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Police Arrest Man Sought in Shooting Death of University of Utah Student

by Lindsay Whitehurst, Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – A man sought in a carjacking that took the life of a University of Utah student and the death of a Colorado man was arrested Tuesday after he turned himself in at a Salt Lake City library, police said.

Austin Boutain, 24, dodged a manhunt in the rugged foothills near campus for nearly 15 hours before his arrest in the death of ChenWei Guo.

Guo, a 23-year-old student from China, was shot to death Monday evening during an attempted carjacking and found dead in his car in Red Butte Canyon on the edge of campus.

In addition, police in Golden, Colorado, have said they want to question Boutain about the killing of a 63-year-old man whose truck had been driven by Boutain in Utah. The man’s body was found Tuesday in his trailer in Colorado.

Kathleen E. Boutain, the suspect’s wife, is also a person of interest in the Colorado case. She was in custody in Utah on unrelated drug and theft charges.

Salt Lake City Police Detective Greg Wilking said Austin Boutain apparently slipped a police containment line in a nearby canyon after Guo was killed.

Guo, one of thousands of international students at the University of Utah, was a freshman from Beijing who came to the U.S. in 2012 and dreamed of owning his own consulting company. He was studying pre-computer science.

He was a member of the Mormon church, having served as a missionary in Provo.

Rachel Tam, a 24-year-old friend of Guo, said he would speak in a moving and powerful way about his faith. He also loved to dance and wowed his friends on the dance floor with hip hop moves at a church event in August.

“He was really talented,” she said.

Lori McDonald, dean of students, described him as “extremely outgoing, charming, creative, smart.”

A lockdown at the university, which has about 32,800 students, ended early Tuesday and university officials canceled classes for the day. About 175 students had to shelter in the library Monday night because they couldn’t return their homes.

University President David W. Pershing issued a statement calling the killing a “senseless, random act of violence” and said the school would offer counseling.

An arrest record from the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office showed Kathleen Boutain was being held on suspicion of three counts, including theft by receiving stolen property. She acknowledged to police that she was traveling in a stolen vehicle that had stolen firearms, according to arrest records.

Authorities said in the records that the woman had a prescription bottle with a torn-off label that had zolpidem pills, a prescription sedative used to treat insomnia.

It wasn’t immediately clear if Austin or Kathleen Boutain had attorneys. No phone numbers were listed publicly for either of them. A phone number listed Austin Boutain’s parents in Alexandria, Minnesota, rang unanswered.

Court records show he had a string of arrests in Minnesota and Alabama dating back to his days as a juvenile for possessing a dangerous weapon on school property, car theft and drug offenses.

Boutain served time in state prison as recently as last spring on a charge of being a convicted sex offender and failing to properly report his whereabouts to police, court documents show.

He was sentenced to five years in prison in November 2015 and paroled in May.

Court records show he married Kathleen Boutain in March 2014 and the couple had two children.

Austin Boutain filed for divorce in January, citing his incarceration, but a judge has not yet issued a final order ending the marriage.

It wasn’t clear Tuesday where the couple’s children were living.

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