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Woman’s body found at campsite; Box Elder officials investigating

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Jenny Atkinson, 31, with her 12-year-old son Jace. Courtesy family photo

By Cimaron Neugebauer

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Aug 10 2012 10:39PM
Updated Aug 11, 2012 07:03AM

The Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the "suspicious death" of a woman whose body was found by hikers Friday night at the bottom of a ravine.

Just after 6 p.m., a couple of hikers found the body of an unidentified female in the Dock Flat campground area, which is about 1½ miles south of Mantua, according to sheriff’s Sgt. Steve Berry.

He said the body will be transported to Utah State Medical Examiner’s Officer to try to determine the cause of death and the woman’s identity.

Family and friends of Jenny Atkinson, 31, believe it may be her body. Atkinson, of Brigham City, is a single mom with cerebral palsy and was reported missing in mid-July. They said that Atkinson’s car also had been found at the campground near where the body was found.

Josie Perea, a friend of Atkinson’s, said the last time anyone saw her was July 17, after Atkinson dropped off her son at a friend’s house for a sleep over. Though the past 3½ weeks have been hard for Perea and Atkinson’s family, Perea said at least there was hope that Atkinson may still be alive somewhere out there.

"This is not the ending I wanted for sure," Perea said as she cried. "I’m glad she is found so we don’t have to wonder, but I didn’t want it to end this way."

Perea last saw her friend a day before she went missing. Atkinson seemed to be in good spirits, she said, but had been going through a tough time recently.

Her family said sometimes she will leave for a few days at a time, but will call to check in on her 12-year-old son.

Atkinson told her son "that she would ‘talk to him later.’ " said Lori Maltby, Atkinson’s sister. By later, she meant the next morning, Maltby said. But Atkinson never showed up.

By July 20, Atkinson still had not picked up her son, so he walked from his friend’s house to his grandparents’ home.

"He waited there for her to pick him up, but she never came, and never came, so finally he decided to walk over to his grandmother’s," Perea said.

That is when the family began to worry, and on July 23, the family filed a missing person report with police, but there had been no sightings of the woman or her Scion xB car until Friday.

"We kept watching for her to come home," Perea said.

Maltby said the family had checked her apartment and she wasn’t there and all calls to her phone go straight to voicemail. She attends school at Bridgerland Applied Technology College in Brigham City, and doesn’t have a job.

"We are suspecting foul play because she hasn’t contacted anyone," Maltby said in an earlier interview with The Tribune today before hearing the news of the body being found. Maltby is "highly suspicious" of a guy Atkinson met in February with a criminal history, but no one has recently seen him.

"I’m concerned," Maltby said of her little sister. "I’m prepared for the worst, but hoping for the best."

Maltby said the family had put up flyers at businesses in Brigham City, West Valley City, Ogden and other areas where they thought Atkinson might be.

Perea called Friday afternoon to report the story of her missing friend to The Tribune so more people would be aware and help look for her, only to find out hours later police had possibly found Atkinson’s body.

Perea said she will always remember how kind her friend was, her "beautiful smile" and that "she genuinely had a good heart for people."

cimaron@sltrib.com

Twitter: @CimCity

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