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Front Page » January 10, 2012 » Carbon County News » 1995: Murder of prominent couple stuns Carbon County
Published 963 days ago

1995: Murder of prominent couple stuns Carbon County


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

The year began with a new law that most people have now become used to: The Utah Indoor Clean Air Act. At the time the paper reported that "although a lot of Carbon County restaurant and fast-food establishments agree with the concept of the law, owners are concerned about lost business and employer-employee relations problems that are sure to surface."

One owner of a tavern in town said that she had been approached by a number of people that asked her to turn her business into a private club (which at the time were still allowed to let people smoke in them). Most businesses agreed that it was a good law and that people would eventually get used to it.

While the internet had been around for quite sometime, the growth of it really began to impact many people in 1995. In January the Sun Advocate reported that many locals were just beginning to wake up to the possibilities of what was going to happen with the new frontier. The term "information superhighway" had just come into being and words like e-mail and world wide web were new to many people. The paper reported that the internet had an estimated user population of "between 20 and 60 million people" and that students in the area were "even sending e-mail from class to class, county to county and country to country."

January also brought about an incident at the county's juvenile detention center when one of the center's employees was beaten up as a 17 year old inmate "used a piece of a wooden couch" to beat up the man.

A letter from the Carbon County Commission to the Emery County Commission saying that Carbon intended to start its own travel bureau was misinterpreted by state travel officials and when the new 1995 Utah Travel Council Guide was published in February, the Castle County Travel Region was totally swallowed up by surrounding travel regions with only short paragraphs in those regions that described the Carbon-Emery areas attractions. Carbon officials were stunned when the guide came out because they never intended to eliminate the Castle Country Travel Region, but instead were intending to enhance it.

In March, the Permanent Community Impact Board told Sanpete County that it was denying a request for $350,000 for an engineering study on the Gooseberry Project, saying they could "reappear before the board in August if they accumulated the necessary data" for such a request. The denial was a victory for the Carbon contingent at the meeting after they had held discussions about the negative side of such a project being built.

However, in May the Bureau of Reclamation issued its record of decision on an Environmental Impact Statement that had been issued earlier and recommended that the project as a whole be funded by the federal government. In July the Carbon Water Committee joined ranks with several private individuals and environmental groups by filing a civil complaint concerning the project in federal court about how the EIS was drafted.

Carbon High's debate team won their fourth consecutive state championship in March. In the state rounds Cedar High School held a slight edge as the tournament nearing the close of the tournament, but in the final round of the Lincoln-Douglas debates Carbon won 9 of the 15 possible points awarded for that event and they outdistanced Cedar to win the state title.

A sad news story struck in June when the bodies of Dominic and Jan Oliveto were found inside an office building they owned in downtown Price. They had been shot and soon the police were looking for their son-in-law, Charles Westbrook.

Later that day the Carbon County Sheriff's office discovered Westbrook's body near Four Mile Hill. He had apparently committed suicide. The Olivetos were well known throughout the area, having been owners of Oliveto Furniture. Janet was also serving at the time on the Price City Council and was on the board of directors for the Carbon County Travel Bureau.

The investigation into the situation later confirmed that the shots that killed the Oliveto couple came from the same gun that Westbrook used on himself. It was deemed a murder-suicide in December.

An apparent prank at Balanced Rock, just above Helper, created a firestorm of controversy in August. A group of climbers went up to the rock formation and took a barrel that was on a pole there down. That barrel had been in place since 1929. The barrel was replaced by a small Welsh flag. But the uproar in the community was strong and the police department and city officials were swamped with calls.

In October the Carbon-Emery Drug Task Force made the largest drug seizure up to that time by grabbing marijuana worth approximately $100,000 (30 pounds). The marijuana was stored in a van that had been sitting for some time after the man who was driving disappeared. A woman who saw the man putting it in the van reported it to the police. No one was arrested in the incident intermediately but in November the man accused of secreting away the pot was arrested in Arizona for allegedly killing a police officer.

Highway 6 was cut off to the Wasatch Front for a short time in November when a mudslide 10 feet deep covered the road in the Red Narrows area of Spanish Fork Canyon. It took road and railroad crews several hours to clear away the mess and open up the transportation lines.

A Carbon County Sheriff's Deputy stopped a speeding van near Cat Canyon in mid-December and found that the vehicle contained illegal drugs and that the "three suspicious looking occupants inside" were heavily armed. Nine officers from five different agencies responded to the stop and the three men were "proned out" on the road. The three men inside turned out to be Utah County peace officers and had identified themselves as lawmen, but the local authorities were taking no chances until the story could be checked out.

Some thought it was embarrassing, but as Carbon County Sheriff Jim Robertson put it, "I would find it embarrassing for those three clowns in the van," and went onto say that they should have been more careful about how they were handling themselves while coming back from an undercover operation in another part of the state.

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