Authorities arrest Southern Utah man after his mother’s body is found buried under coal in basement

Composite image for illustration; background photo by ViewApart, iStock / Getty Images Plus, St. George News / Cedar City News

ST. GEORGE — A Panguitch man was arrested Wednesday after allegedly burying his elderly mother’s body in coal in a basement room of the home they shared and then boarding up the room.

Pete Marker, of Panguitch, Utah, booking photo posted Jan. 10, 2018 | Photo courtesy of the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

Authorities were contacted by a St. George woman who said she had received a letter from her uncle – identified as 66-year-old Pete Foy Marker – stating that her 90-year-old grandmother, Roma Bowman, had died of natural causes on Christmas Day, charging documents state.

The letter to his niece went on to say that he had buried the woman in the hills west of Panguitch because he had promised her he would give her a “green funeral,” according to a probable cause statement filed by the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office in support of the arrest.

The Sheriff and two of his deputies picked Marker up at his residence Wednesday and transported him to the Garfield County Jail to question him about the contents of the letter.

Marker reportedly told authorities that his mother had gone to bed about 8 p.m. Dec. 25, 2017, and that he found her dead in her bed three hours later when he checked on her before going to bed, finding that she “was no longer breathing,” the report states.

After this discovery, Marker said he went to the mountains to try to find a suitable place to bury his mother but found that “people were still hunting elk and he did not dare bury her with all the people around in the mountains,” the arresting deputy wrote in the sworn statement, adding:

Marker stated that he was aware that burying someone in the hills was against the law and that he thought about notifying the sheriff’s office, but did not do so.

Instead, Marker said he placed a denim jacket on his mother’s body and wrapped her in bedding before placing her on a green Gatorade sign and dragging her down to the basement of the home, the report states. He then placed Bowman in an unused coal storage room, covered her with coal and boarded the room back up.

Following the interview, investigators went to the home and pried off the wood planks that were covering the doorway so they could gain access to the room, according to the charging documents. They then began digging in the coal, finding a black tarp that appeared to be covering a body with Carpet Fresh rug and room deodorizer powder sprinkled over the tarp.

“In removing the black tarp, we found bedding that appeared to be wrapped around a body,” the report states. “We could also smell a strong odor of decomposing flesh. Under the body was the green Gatorade sign used to haul Bowman’s body down the stairs. The body was also placed on a cushion. The body was totally buried in coal.”

Marker was arrested and booked into the Garfield County Jail where he is being held on a $200,000 cash-only bail.

The Garfield County Attorney’s Office filed an information in 6th District Court Thursday accusing Marker of third-degree felony desecration of a human body and class B misdemeanor failure to report finding a human body.

According to Utah Court documents, Marker has no criminal history in Utah.

Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • comments January 13, 2018 at 11:42 am

    this is just sad

  • ladybugavenger January 13, 2018 at 9:03 pm

    It is sad Bob. And I don’t think he did it maliciously. I think he’s just that uncivilized.

  • Honor1st January 14, 2018 at 1:46 am

    I am now wondering what other people who don’t have funeral money do ?
    Sadly there are some elderly who barely have the money for food and utilities let alone funeral home costs .

  • Alisa January 14, 2018 at 9:09 am

    This headline is cruel and inflammatory.
    The fact that this man is in jail is hateful.
    This breaks my heart.

    Notice there is absolutely NO mention of suspicion of foul play. His story actually makes sense. Also, he, “sent a letter”… from Panguitch to St. George. Not exactly technologically savvy. A simple man. Not a crime.

    He’s 66 years old. That means his mother is, at the very least, late eighties, early nineties.

    He still lived with her, at 66…
    Possibly some mental or social issues there but no one in Panguitch coming forward to suggest he was a violent man…

    Also he said he had already spoken to his mother, and promised her a “green funeral”

    To put all of this together suggests very strongly that, while he may be guilty of a couple of things, he really didn’t do anything wrong. Not morally, anyway. He just did the best he knew how.


    Didn’t a drunk man, who had been cited for drinking and driving before… lost his license… drove anyway… hit and killed a woman last month… hid from authorities for a week… remember that guy?
    His bail was seven thousand.

    This is a serious FAIL. To the ones enforcing the laws… On behalf of every citizen of southern Utah…. get your s… together, this is unacceptable.

    ED: add ellipses

    • Icomments2 January 14, 2018 at 11:58 am

      I totally agree with you!!! And very well said… Thank you…

    • ladybugavenger January 14, 2018 at 12:41 pm

      I agree with you!

    • comments January 14, 2018 at 12:58 pm

      thats how i felt. its sad

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