On the 24th of May 2020, a Sunday, Layton Police Dispatch received a 911 call in Utah, United States. The call was made by twenty four year old Ethan Robert Hunsaker at 3.20am that morning.
Ethan told police that he killed a person inside his residence at 1300 North Reid Avenue.
When police arrived at his house, they found the body of a woman on the floor in one of the three bedrooms. Ethan told police that he only met the woman that night and knew her first name but not her last. Police found her identification with her belongings in the bedroom and established that she was twenty five year old Ashlyn Black. Police observed that there were multiple stab wounds to her torso.
According to Ethan, he only met Ashlyn the night before, on the Saturday night, after they matched via the dating app Tinder. He told police that he collected her from her home at around 9pm and they went to a local bar for a few drinks before going back to his house. Ethan lived in the house alone and it had not been furnished yet. He told police that they had "intimate relations" on the floor in one of the bedrooms and when he woke up he found Ashlyn lying on his arm.
Ethan told police that the date was normal and they didn't argue yet for some inexplicable reason, he killed her. He went on to outline his actions when he woke up that morning. According to Ethan, he began to choke Ashlyn "for as hard as he could for one minute." Ashlyn woke and fought for her life. She tried to get him to stop and tried to pull his arms away from her neck. There were marks on his arms, neck and shoulder area.
Ethan got up and went into the kitchen to get a knife. He returned to the bedroom with the knife, a spring assisted pocket knife that had a four inch blade, and stabbed Ashlyn multiple times. He kneeled over her as he stabbed her between five to ten times in the chest, sides and back.
By Ethan's own account, he waited ten minutes before he called 911.
Ethan told police that he was diagnosed with mental health illnesses and struggled with daily thoughts of homicidal actions and suicide. He was charged with murder.
Ashlyn and Ethan were matched on Tinder that night but their lives were very different. Ashlyn was a much loved daughter and friend and her coworkers adored her and were devastated by her murder. She was recalled as a kind and welcoming person by the Avenues Proper restaurant in Salt Lake City where she previously worked. Ashlyn liked to spend her free time camping and shopping for vintage clothing. She cared for special needs children and planned to adopt a child with Down syndrome. While Ashlyn was making plans for her future, Ethan's life was spiraling out of control.
Prosecutors said Ethan had thought up ways to kill and kidnap others shortly before Ashlyn's death. Ethan worked at a concrete and asphalt company and seemed like a great employee until his personal circumstances changed. He broke up with the mother of his young daughter and became withdrawn. His work suffered. He missed days and arrived late.
Within a few months, he lost his job due to an altercation with a female coworker. He made dark comments and his coworkers reported he’d talked about harming women.
Ashlyn's family released a statement:
"A monster has taken away the life of our little girl in a crime as senseless as it was evil. Our hearts are broken and our lives are forever changed due to the despicable acts of another person. In just a few senseless and selfish minutes, a life of an amazing, fun-loving young woman was taken, one who had a passion for being the voice of those who could not speak out for themselves. And a gift for working with those who have special needs. The lives of her friends and family are permanently altered. No time can fill the emptiness we feel, and the hole it has left in our hearts. We ask for privacy as we grieve and mourn our loss."
Ethan initially pleaded not guilty but changed his plea to guilty and mentally ill.
If a Judge agrees that he is currently mentally ill, he will receive treatment at the state's psychiatric hospital and then serve his sentence in the Utah State Prison. Regardless of whether the Judge agrees whether he is currently mentally ill or not, he still faces the same sentence which is at least 15 years and up to life in prison. The only difference will be as to whether he needs treatment or not before starting that prison sentence.
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