15-year-old killed while on the phone with her mom

Baleigh Bagshaw

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah man who police describe as a suspect in the killing of a teenage girl in Salt Lake City was arrested Wednesday in Colorado following a two-day multi-state manhunt.

Shaun French, 24, had previously been in a sexual relationship with 15-year-old Baleigh Bagshaw and lived at her home, Salt Lake Police Sgt. Brandan Shearer said after his arrest. Police did not release a possible motive for Bagshaw’s killing, nor would they disclose additional details about how she was killed.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports French and Bagshaw had a prior sexual relationship. French moved in with the girl’s family in February of 2017 when he was 23 and the girl was 14.

Shearer called it a brutal killing that Bagshaw’s mother overheard while talking on the phone to her daughter Monday, shortly after she had returned home from high school. Calling her mother when she returned home was reportedly part of Bagshaw’s daily routine.

“While she was on the phone, she heard screaming at which time, once the call ended, she contacted a neighbor who went to the house and immediately contacted the police,” Shearer said.

Police called the attack “very violent,” and said there is a large amount of evidence spread throughout the home.

French has initially been charged with three counts of sexual involvement with a minor. Utah authorities are seeking to extradite him and will travel to Colorado to try to interview him, Shearer said.

He is currently the only suspect in the case, police said.

French was arrested in Otero County in southeastern Colorado. Authorities would not disclose if he had been identified by his distinctive SUV, a camouflage-painted 1991 Daihatsu Rocky.

French has family and acquaintances in Colorado, Wyoming and Ohio, Shearer said. It was unclear whether he was visiting those people when he was arrested.

Friends of Bagshaw remember her as “absolutely fearless,” according to Fox 13.

“Baleigh was one of my greatest friends that I ever had,” Maddie Valdez said. “I had a history of sort of being bullied I guess. Just sort of like taunting type things so she would always stand up for me.”

Valdez said when she heard French might be connected to her friend’s death, the name rang a bell. She said Bagshaw had posted on Facebook about the man less than a week before her death.

“It gave his name, Shaun French, and a bunch of his aliases and it said he was impersonating one of her friends and, like, harassing her,” said Valdez.

Valdez now moves forward without a close friend who had always been her ally. 

“All these plans that we had made and all of this future that we wanted was just taken away from us,” said Valdez.

GoFundMe account has been created to cover the costs of Bagshaw’s funeral.

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