A search continues in rugged terrain north of Moab for the remains of a missing woman after her convicted killer led authorities to the area.
Local and federal officials searched an area at the Book Cliffs, near Thompson Springs, on Tuesday, Sept. 12, for the remains of Jennifer Marcum, who was last seen in 2003 at the age of 25.
Grand County Sheriff Steven White and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents searched terrain in an area, about 15 to 20 miles north of Interstate 70.
The FBI brought in a specialized dog in hopes of unearthing Marcum’s remains, White said.
“It’s a continuous search,” White said. “As we brainstorm and see different things, we go out to check. We’ve been looking from (here in) Thompson Spring, (all the way) into Colorado for the last 12 years. Twenty to 30 searches have been made so far.”
White said that national media outlets have been following the case for years and that Dateline NBC was in Grand County recently to film a segment for television.
The officials did not find Marcum’s remains, but White said her body is believed to be in a shallow grave and the terrain changes due to heavy rains. White described the area as being near Spring Canyon with a dirt access road.
“We had searched that area previously three or four times,” White said. “There had been some flooding, so we thought we would re-check.”
Authorities were led to search the area based on information from the serial killer convicted in Marcum’s disappearance, Scott Kimball. Kimball, from Boulder County, Colorado, is currently serving a 70-year sentence for pleading guilty to four murders, including Marcum’s.
Marcum’s brown four-door 1999 Saturn was found abandoned in a remote parking lot at the Denver International Airport after her disappearance in 2003.
Reports said Marcum has not been heard from since, and the agency found no evidence that she took a flight out of the airport, nor has her cell phone been used since the day of her disappearance.
White said Kimball told authorities that her remains are in Utah, but didn’t identify a specific area or mention Grand County.
“He said something like, ‘I drove in to Utah 20 minutes,’” White said. “He gives general descriptors and we go from there. We come back and re-group and we keep looking.”
Grand County Road Department Supervisor Bill Jackson said on Sept. 12 that the terrain in the vicinity of the searches is vast.
“The Book Cliffs is a big area,” he said.
Reports on the case said that Marcum had known Kimball before her disappearance.
Kimball was a former cellmate of Marcum’s boyfriend, Steven Ennis, who was detained in a federal facility for charges related to a drug case. Kimball has a long criminal history, and had been in prison for multiple charges. He negotiated an early release from prison by promising to work with the FBI. It was during his time as an FBI informant that he began the killings.
He initially told authorities that Ennis had solicited Marcum to kill a witness against him, and that she had bought a gun and flown to New York to commit the murder.
In June 2003, he changed his story and told an FBI agent that a drug dealer, one of Ennis’s friends, had killed Marcum. He said the murderer had strangled her and buried her body near Rifle, Colorado.
He later changed his story again, admitting to not only Marcum’s murder, but also to killing his own uncle, Terry Kimball, and two other women, Leann Emry, 24, and Kaysi McLeod, 19.
Reports state Kimball was the last person that all four of the victims were seen with before they each disappeared.
McLeod disappeared in 2003, and her body was identified in 2008. White said Emry’s remains were discovered in Utah in 2009. Her vehicle had been found in Moab after she disappeared in 2004. In 2009, Kimball’s uncle’s remains were located in a remote area near Vail, Colorado.
The Denver Post reported in 2010 that when authorities searched Kimball’s computer, they located pictures of the four victims, as well as photos of four other women who had not been identified.
White said he believes that it’s possible there are “other victims still out there.”
Kimball’s original 48-year prison sentence was increased to 70 years after he could not lead authorities to Marcum’s remains; reports said that he admitted she could be buried as far as 60 miles from the location he led authorities to.
“I was one of the first guys to come on this case, and my chief deputy and a couple of others,” White said. “We are personally invested and we want to keep looking. We are assisting the FBI.”
FBI Special Agent Amy Meyer confirmed that the FBI is currently executing a search in the Book Cliffs area.
“[H]owever, our investigation is ongoing so we cannot provide further details at this time,” she said.
“If we get an indication, if the dog hits on something, then we would call a recovery team in,” White said. The team would be from the medical examiner’s office or the FBI. “We’ve been doing this a long time. Are we getting closer? I don’t know.”
“I hope we find her some day,” White said. “I want to be able to give her family that closure.”
Investigation into missing woman ongoing since 2009
“We had searched that area previously three or four times. There had been some flooding so we thought we would re-check.”