Our Brother

By Amy Donaldson, KSL Podcasts

Leslie Moore, Jordan Rasmussen’s older sister, remembers her brother at Wasatch Lawn Memorial Park and Mortuary in Millcreek on Sunday, March 5, 2023.

In the years after Jordan Rasmussen’s murder, his older sister was so unraveled by grief, that sometimes, she didn’t even recognize herself.

“This is really embarrassing to say,” Leslie Rasmussen Moore said, pausing to consider whether she should confess this truth to a stranger, “maybe shows part of my character I don’t want to acknowledge, but sometimes as I was reading the newspaper, I would look at an obituary, and I think, ‘Oh, they’re hurting, too. I’m not just the only one that’s hurting.’”

The agony of losing her brother – especially so violently – was isolating.

She was desperate not to feel alone.

Leslie had studied sociology, and she understood her feelings were a normal part of grief. But she was overwhelmed with shame. 

“That was something that I didn’t want to admit at all,” she said. “I was furious at myself for thinking that I was looking at someone else being miserable but it’s natural.”

And instead of healing her wounds, time seemed to be turning them into something else, something darker. Her suffering was evolving into rage.

Leslie desperately wanted to move on, but she felt bound to her brother’s killer in ways she just couldn’t seem to escape. Even her married name – Moore – became a tether to her brother’s killer – Michael Moore – despite there being no relation. 

And then there was the way the killer blamed her brother, maligned his character and lied about him, calling him dishonest and a bully. 

The one consolation, she told herself, was that Michael Moore was suffering too. He had to be, she thought, isolated in prison with no hope of a normal life.

And while this toxic stew roiled in her gut constantly, she managed to keep it hidden, simmering on a back burner, most of the time. But there were times when it boiled over, and turned her into a person she didn’t want to claim. 

Like the time she was driving to an event at BYU in Provo. She was headed south from Ogden, and her thoughts were on the meetings that night and the next day – until she saw it. Just off to the west of I-15, the network of buildings behind razor wire where Michael Moore was serving two life sentences. 

I saw the prison, and I thought, ‘I need to drive into that parking lot. And I need to see that ice-cold building’,” Leslie said. “I need to see the miserable circumstances because… I’m miserable. And I have no sympathy. I have no Christlike love, I am just empty.”

Leslie was 25 miles from the restaurant where her husband waited for her. Stopping made no sense, but she couldn’t help herself. She veered off the freeway, and drove to the guard station at the main gate. 

She had no plan, only pain.

She showed her ID, parked her car, and walked into the security entrance. 

“I said to the guard there, ‘You know, is there any way I can just kind of look in here and see the coldness? …The person that took my brother’s life is in here, and I just want to see how miserable he is.’ Because I wanted to see that he was miserable.”

The prison officer gently explained that people weren’t allowed to just walk into the prison. The shame rose up in her chest, and she walked back to her car, that painful stew churning in her stomach.

Jordan and DeAnn Rasmussen with their three children in 1981, about a year before Jordan was murdered.

She got into her car, and started the engine.

But before she pulled away, she surveyed the bleak rows of buildings behind a series of fences. It had to be a maze of misery. Who could be happy locked in that hopeless place?

“I just wanted to see him …suffering,” she said. 

But what Leslie Rasmussen Moore didn’t know as she drove away from the Utah State Prison nearly four decades ago, was that she’d eventually get her wish. She would get to go inside the prison and see for herself just how miserable Michael Patrick Moore was.

It would be several years later, and it wouldn’t be at all what she expected. Not for her. Not for anyone in her family. 

Blanche and Elden Rasmussen, center, with their son Jordan Rasmussen behind them. Leslie Rasmussen Moore is on the far left, Jordan’s wife, DeAnn is next to her.

She wrote a letter to Michael Moore. Well, she said she held the pen. The words – they came from somewhere else.

“I just remember writing this letter, and it wasn’t me writing it,” she said. “I remember that. I remember, ‘I am not writing these words, I don’t know where these words are coming from.’ …I am penning something that I am not engaged with. It just came out, it just flowed.”

The words on the page expressed ideas and sentiments that Leslie couldn’t have imagined writing – or feeling – less than 24 hours earlier. 

She put the letter in an envelope, and then she mailed it. 

A few days later, Leslie told her parents, her sisters, and Jordan’s widow. They were all shocked. Her youngest sister, Ann Marie Herpich’s response?

“Oh, my goodness, what? What have you done?” 

Life Sentences

By Amy Donaldson, KSL Podcasts

Carla Maas and Dana Booth Christensen
Carla Maas, left, and her daughter Dana Booth Christensen, talk at the grave of Buddy Booth in April in Salt Lake City. Booth was Maas’ husband and Christensen’s father. (Ryan Meeks, KSL Podcasts)

When a stranger with a gun left Carla Maas a widow at age 23, he had no idea how his violent decision robbed her family of the most stable thing in their lives.

Buddy Booth’s murder on March 5, 1982, left Maas the sole support for their two daughters — ages 4 years and 4 months. She couldn’t bring herself to return to the apartment they’d shared, so the young mother who had no job, no high school diploma and now no home, found herself confronting questions that felt impossible to answer.

But the most heartbreaking question came from her 4-year-old daughter Norma.

“She always wondered where her dad was, why he wasn’t coming home,” Maas said, breaking into sobs. “And it took me a long time … before I even said anything to her.”

Maas didn’t know how to answer her daughter’s questions. So, she didn’t.

But about a year after Buddy’s murder, she succumbed to the pressure from her parents to take Norma to her daddy’s grave. It was a trip she hoped would help her find a way to explain death to the now 5-year-old little girl who’d been the center of her dad’s life.

Maas and Norma drove to the Salt Lake cemetery where he was buried. They parked and walked a short distance to the headstone where Buddy’s name was engraved. And then, she tried to explain that this was where her daddy lives now.

But the little girl was confused.

“And she kept looking around,” Maas recalled, wiping away tears. “She was … looking for him is what she was doing. And I sat by the grave for a little bit. She wouldn’t sit down. She just kept looking, waiting for him to come.”

Norma grew more distressed, so Maas decided it was time to leave. She took her daughter by the hand, but she tried to pull her hand away.

“And she goes, ‘Mama, wait, wait. Mama, wait. I want to see my dad’,” Maas sobbed. “And I told her that her dad lives here. … And he … he’s in the ground.”

She covers her face, crying at the memory.

“And that broke her heart,” Maas said. “And she just cried and cried. … I felt it was a mistake to bring her because I knew then she wasn’t ready for it and …”

Sobs interrupt her again.

“She was angry with me for a while — thinking I took her away from her dad again.”

Carla Maas wasn’t the only young widow trying to navigate grief and motherhood. Because the morning of March 5, 1982, Michael Moore killed two young fathers — Jordan Rasmussen, 30, and Buddy Booth, 24. Moore knew Rasmussen and laid out an elaborate series of lies that police, prosecutors, and eventually a jury rejected. But he didn’t know Booth.

Booth arrived at the restaurant just minutes after Moore shot Rasmussen in the head. Moore, 25, ran into the restaurant to look for a way to dispose of Rasmussen’s body when Booth drove up in his delivery van planning to pick up a load of dirty linens for his employer, Peerless Laundry.

When he saw Rasmussen’s body in the driveway, he parked the van and walked over to where he laid in the snow. Moore came out of the restaurant, and after a brief exchange, he shot Booth as the man ran from him.

A jury didn’t buy Moore’s lies, but they did offer him mercy. Instead of sending him to death row, they sent him to prison to serve two consecutive life sentences.

But after just a year, Moore would make his first appearance before the Utah State Board of Pardons and Parole. And while no one believed he would be eligible for early release after just a year behind bars, Moore made a sincere and impassioned plea for a parole date.

“I feel for the families and the wrong I’ve done,” Moore told the parole board in a hearing in September of 1983. “I would hope that there’s some way I can make that up to society. I don’t know what I can do, I wish we could go back and redo it. I would never put myself in a position that would ever do what I’ve done.”

The young widows didn’t know about the hearing.

Carla Maas
Carla Maas visits her former husband Buddy Booth’s gravesite Elysian Gardens in Millcreek in April. (Photo: Ryan Meeks, KSL Podcasts)

While the man who killed their husbands fought for his freedom, they fought for a way out of the pain that saturated everything.

“I remember the day I woke up after the funeral,” said Jordan Rasmussen’s widow, DeAnn Rasmussen. “That was when it really hit me — to wake up in the morning and the first thing you notice is your heart is racing. And you think, ‘Did I dream that? Or is it real?’ And then reality would hit and I didn’t want to get out of bed.”

She hoped that if she could find a way to face every lonely morning, she could find her way back to a happy life.

“I just knew that time would heal this open wound that was in my heart and I just so badly wanted time to go by fast because my heart was broken,” she said. “It wasn’t just emotionally; it was a physical pain. I literally felt my heart was broken.”

But even on her worst days, she found three reasons not to succumb to grief.

“I just remember,” she said, crying, “life just seems so empty. I thought I just don’t want to go on living. What’s there to live for? But then I’d think of David, Lisa and Chad, and I thought, ‘I have to be here for them.'”

Like Booth, Jordan Rasmussen left a 5-year-old confused and longing for the daddy she adored. DeAnn Rasmussen and Jordan Rasmussen’s sisters tried to explain to little Lisa what it meant to die. In an effort to ease the pain they anticipated she’d feel, they reminded her of their faith. They said she would see her daddy again in the afterlife.

“Your daddy’s going to be gone for a long, long time,” Diane Rasmussen Duckworth told her young niece. “It’ll be a long time until you see him, and she says, ‘Well, not very long, because he will come home for Christmas. Because he loves Christmas.'”

Duckworth can’t suppress sobs as she remembers her niece’s words.

“And I remember thinking, ‘No, it’ll be longer than Christmas’,” she said. “You know … you can’t explain the hereafter to a 5- or 6-year-old.”

That would become evident nine months later as they gathered for their first Christmas without Jordan Rasmussen. As their mother encouraged them to get ready for bed on Christmas Eve, Lisa made it clear just how mean grief could be.

“That December, DeAnn was saying, ‘You gotta go to bed’,” Duckworth remembered. “You know, ‘Santa can’t come until you go to sleep.’ … Lisa said, ‘I don’t care about Santa. I’m waiting for Dada to come back.’ … Those words ring clear. ‘He’ll be back, he’ll come home for Christmas, because he loves Christmas.'”

Rasmussen family in the early 80s.
Rasmussen family in the early 80s. Left to right back row: David, Jordan, DeAnn, and Blanche. Front row Lisa and Chad (in the stroller). Credit: Rasmussen family.

When Buddy Booth and Jordan Rasmussen were murdered, their wives were banished to an isolating new reality. They were women who’d lost the men they loved, the partners they’d relied on. Rasmussen and Maas wandered through remnants of their old lives desperate for the comfort of something familiar. And they found it scattered in the debris left by the violence.

But often, without warning, those same things taunted them, shifting into painful reminders of what they’d lost to a gunman’s rampage.

One of the loneliest aspects of this new life was that there wasn’t time to stumble through the darkness alone. They were mothers. Everything they did — and didn’t do — impacted the road their children had to travel.

They both had devastated children who couldn’t understand why their dads were hugging them on Thursday, and gone from their lives completely on Friday.

“Sometimes I would get angry,” Rasmussen said of the months after the murders. “If the kids did something — got an award at school or did something that the parents should be there — I would just be angry that … they couldn’t have their dad there. …It was hard not feeling sorry for them. And so you just wanted to give them things.”

Rasmussen sought counseling. She wanted to be whole for her children. And while she assumed they were grieving too, she wasn’t sure how to talk about their pain. So they didn’t.

“They just kind of kept it in,” she said. “I think I failed them. I probably should have brought it out.”

There would be endless tears, enduring sorrow, and eventually a return to joyful lives. But the full impact of what it meant to lose their fathers at such young ages wouldn’t become clear for many years.

Especially for Norma and Dana Booth. Losing their father set in motion a series of events that triggered an avalanche of compounding trauma. Some of those events were set in motion that first year. That same year the man who robbed these children of their fathers was working hard to convince prison officials that he didn’t deserve to live behind bars. Michael Moore was preparing to plead for a second chance at freedom. And that led to a hearing where he had to answer one critical question: Did he understand the damage he’d done?

Buddy Booth grave
The grave marker for Buddy Booth at Elysian Gardens in Millcreek. (Photo: Ryan Meeks, KSL Podcasts)

And Moore would have answers for the parole board, but he’d have an ally in his fight that those widows could relate to — his father.

Edward Moore had pleaded with a jury to spare his son’s life. And in September of 1983, he pleaded with the parole board to let his son live that life outside the prison’s walls.

“Michael’s not a criminal,” Edward Moore said. “Michael must have been brainwashed, under tremendous mental strain to do something like that. I just can’t understand it. I didn’t even know he could shoot a gun. We don’t have guns in our house.”

He even appealed to an authority higher than the parole board.

“We’re all being judged by a higher board of pardons than this,” Edward Moore said. “And I’m sure the main upstairs will say, ‘Let there be peace and goodness that follows. For it is in the forgiving that we are pardoned, and in the pardoning that we are forgiven. We humbly beseech … that you grant Mike favorable rehearing that will offer him hope instead of despair.”

But hope would not come in the form Michael Moore requested. After a brief deliberation, the board decided to give Moore the maximum rehearing date available at that time — 10 years. He was devastated and openly wondered if there was anything he could do, any changes he could make that would bring him release from the hopelessness of prison.

He asked them what might happen if he continued to stay out of trouble in prison, if he kept volunteering, attending therapy and trying to improve himself.

“What can we anticipate after that, if I maintain my present course,” he asked. “Can you give me some ray of hope is what I’m asking? Should I anticipate a five-year rehearing date when I return in 10 (years)?”

But board members refused to give him anything but advice.

“Mike, I won’t commit to that,” the chairman said, advising him to continue to stay out of trouble and make good use of his time behind bars. “I think it would be best for you … to prepare for that rehearing, look forward to that as a goal. … But the options at that time, I don’t know. And I wouldn’t want to comment on that, because me commenting would set some expectations.”

And with that, Michael went back to the life he was trying to rebuild within the confines of the prison walls. That hearing set a decade into the future would bring Moore back into the lives of his victims. But not in a way that any of them expected.


By Amy Donaldson, KSL Podcasts

SALT LAKE CITY — Carla Maas was lost in a haze of grief until she looked up from the witness stand and saw his face.

“I remember seeing Michael Moore across from me,” she said of her husband’s killer. “And him just looking at me, and it kind of — it scared me. It made me very nervous. … I saw no remorse.”

The austere, windowless room in Utah’s 3rd District Courthouse was packed. People sat on the floor in the aisles and stood along the back wall. Maas had huddled in the center of her extended family, hoping to avoid the swarm of media that threatened to pull her from the safe obscurity of her now shattered life.

A group of people walk into the Third District courtroom on September 7, 1982. Credit: KSL TV

“I felt like I was being closed in on,” she said of walking to the witness stand during Moore’s capital murder case. “I don’t like to be in front of crowds. I don’t like to be the center of attraction. I like to hide in the back of the room.”

But on this particular morning, Sept. 8, 1982, Maas left the safety bubble her family created for her to do one thing — make sure the jury saw her husband as more than the body of a delivery man in the back of a van.

“I remember the bag that they brought out with all the evidence in it — my husband’s clothing,” Maas said. “And it was bloody.”

The laundry van where the bodies of Jordan Rasmussen and Buddy Booth were found at Log Haven Resort, March 5th, 1982. Credit: Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

The prosecutor asked if she recognized the brown, blood-soaked shirt. She saw the name “Bud” stitched on the chest and she felt sick.

“I was shocked,” Maas recalled. “I was devastated. I put my head down, and that’s when I started feeling light-headed, dizzy. … It was really tough. And all I could do was cry.”

She said Moore just stared at her as she sobbed.

Moore was manager of the iconic Log Haven restaurant when he confessed to killing 32-year-old Jordan Rasmussen, alleging he was being forced to embezzle by a network of organized crime associated with one of two men who bought the restaurant in 1979. Buddy Booth was killed simply because he happened on the murder scene while Moore was trying to decide how to dispose of Rasmussen’s body.

Moore’s defense attorney, Bob Van Sciver, told the media, “It’s an awful, brutal crime. I think (there’s) little that can be said in justification for having committed that much carnage.”

Defense attorney Robert Van Sciver speaks at the double murder trial of Michael Patrick Moore, August 1982. Credit: KSL TV

But Van Sciver, who died in 1997, was also convinced this wasn’t a death penalty case. And, using the same facts that prosecutors hoped would convince jurors to send Moore to the firing squad, the defense painted a completely different picture.

It all began with two young widows — Maas and 30-year-old DeAnn Rasmussen — trying to make their dead husbands real for a jury who could only see 25-year-old Michael Moore.

Both women cried as they talked about Booth and Rasmussen. They were devoted fathers who valued their families above all else.

As tears streamed down Maas’ face, her sadness slowly hardened into something else.

“I was angry,” she said. “I was furious … because why would he kill an innocent man? … I could see that he was quite cold.”

Through her tears, she met his stare. And then she made it clear what punishment she felt he deserved for robbing her children of their father.

“And I did say an eye for an eye,” she said. “I didn’t think he deserved to be on this earth for killing two people. I just felt that he deserved to die, as well.”

A tragic case

Mike Carter was a crime reporter for the Salt Lake Tribune in 1982 and he remembers his phone ringing on that frigid winter morning.

“I remember this particular morning because it all happened really early,” he said. “I actually got a call at home … from one of the detectives telling me that there had been a double homicide up Millcreek Canyon. So I drove from home up there.”

The road was blocked, but that didn’t deter Carter. He parked his car on the side of the narrow canyon road and hiked through the freshly fallen snow to get a look at the gruesome scene in the driveway at Log Haven. He was only there a few minutes before the homicide sergeant yelled at him, so he went to the detectives’ offices and that’s where he began to learn what happened.

“They didn’t really know what was going on yet, other than it looked like an employee had killed his boss,” Carter recalled. “And that Buddy Booth was unfortunate in that he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. … They were able to put that much together that quick.”

By the end of the day, Moore confessed to the killings. A few days later, prosecutors filed capital murder charges against the 25-year-old, and his family hired one of the state’s most effective and flamboyant defense attorneys.

Carter said there were a number of great attorneys in Salt Lake City in the ’80s, and Van Sciver was one of the best.

“He had the greatest comb-over of all time,” Carter said laughing. “He had this big head of shocking white hair, which was thinning a little on top, and it was combed back in this bouffant kind of thing. He was tall and talked faster than anybody you’ve ever met in your life. But he was a terrific attorney.”

Van Sciver made his mark on the legal system by taking some of the toughest cases with a fearlessness that made him a champion — and a challenge. The one thing no one ever accused him of was being boring.

In his opening statement, Van Sciver conceded the basic facts of the case were undisputed. But, he said, there was an explanation for what Moore had done — and it meant he wasn’t guilty of premeditated, cold-blooded murder.

“This particular trial … I remember it being very dramatic,” Carter said. “There were a lot of surprises. … And juries weren’t tentative about handing down the death penalty in those days.”

Van Sciver said what happened the morning of March 5 was the horrific crash of an emotional spiral. Moore essentially operated in an alternative reality where he was losing the thing he loved most — the restaurant he managed.

The weeks leading up to the shooting were littered with evidence of Moore’s emotional deterioration. He told friends, co-workers and employees at other businesses that the “Chinese mafia” was out to get him, or wanted to set him up.

And it all began when the two businessmen who owned the high-end restaurants decided their partnership had devolved into acrimony. They decided the only solution was a business divorce.

The split was scheduled to be finalized that very day — March 5, 1982. And Rasmussen was supposed to take over Moore’s job as manager. But it’s unclear if that was ever officially revealed to the staff — until one of the owners told police after the murders the new owners planned to replace most of the staff.

The murder weapon Michael Patrick Moore confessed to using to kill Jordan Rasmussen and Buddy Booth. Deputies found it in the sump with the use of a strong magnet at Log Haven Resort, March 5th, 1982. Credit: Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

Van Sciver said Moore had “no sleep, no food, some alcohol (the night before)” and he was losing a job that “appears to have been his entire life.”

Moore told friends he was afraid he was going to be set up for the thefts by the mafia. He said his phones were tapped, and he’d been told “hatchet boys” were coming for him.

Prosecutor TJ Tsakalos said investigators never bought Moore’s twisted version of events. And neither did he.

“I couldn’t get into his head as to why he was thinking the way he was thinking,” Tsakalos said. “Over the course of the trial, people talked about him and how bright he was and how accomplished he was. … I came up with the term chameleon. I thought he could change colors to manipulate you. … So my theory was, he made it up to try to justify what he did.”

The confession

The centerpiece of proving Moore deserved the death penalty was his confession given to police the afternoon of the murders. Prosecutors decided to play the entire 60-minute recording during the trial.

For the families, it was the first time they heard a detailed breakdown of the brutality of the killings. He methodically walked through how Jordan yelled, “No, Mike!” as he shot him in the head, and then how he frantically searched for chains so he could sink Rasmussen’s body in the sump, where they disposed of grease, garbage and sewage.

It was the first time they heard how Booth was leaning over Rasmussen’s body when Moore came running out of the restaurant, and how he turned to run just as Moore shot him twice, hitting him in the arm and the back. He fell face-down in the snow.

And then “he gave them the coup de gras,” Tsakalos said. “He shot them in the head after they were down.”

When asked why he shot Booth, a man he didn’t even know, Moore told police, “Dead men tell no lies.”

Listening to the details was too much for DeAnn Rasmussen.

“I was crying,” she said. “And I think it was at that point that they stopped the trial. And I went out of the room.”

Van Sciver moved for a mistrial, but the judge denied his motion. Rasmussen said every day of the trial was excruciating, but that day was almost unbearable.

“That was one of the hardest things of the trial when they (the defense) tried to say that Jordan had put himself in this spot that made it seem that he deserved it,” she said. “In fact, (Moore’s) words were, ‘He didn’t deserve to live.'”

Jordan’s three sisters left with her, all of them crying, trying to comfort each other.

“It was one of the hardest things I ever had to go through,” she said. “To go every day and listen to cold hearted Mike, his defense attorneys, defending him and trying to make Jordan look bad. It was gut wrenching. I remember coming home every night and just feeling so emotionally spent. I mean, it was hard for me to even think about getting up and going the next day, but you knew you had to.”

It was a Monday when the jury delivered a guilty verdict. And it was Wednesday morning when Van Sciver presented his case to spare Moore’s life.

The most emotional appeal came from Moore’s father, Edward Moore.

“I appreciate you giving me this opportunity to come and plead for my son’s life,” he said. “I want to also express Mike’s mother’s and my sorrow for the families, the Booths, the Rasmussens. … I say to the people in the jury, Mike’s a good boy. Don’t send us home today, Roseann and me, we have been suffering for six months not knowing whether we have a son or not. … I beg you, spare our son for one indiscretion or one transgression he did with his life.”

And then Michael Moore asked the jury to spare his life, promising that he’d do what he could in prison to improve the lives of those around him.

In his final plea to jurors, Van Sciver, living up to his colorful reputation, gave a graphic description of what imposing capital punishment meant. In 1982, Utah’s preferred method of execution was death by firing squad. Bob told jurors that if they sentenced Mike to death, he’d be “dragged from his cell one morning, his bowels will turn to jelly and his hands will be like clay. … We’ll strap him into a chair so we don’t miss, we’ll cut out a red heart and pin it over his heart … and on the command of ‘Fire!’ the life of Michael Patrick Moore will be removed.”

He told the jury no punishment was going to change what happened. “When this trial started, Jordan Rasmussen and Buddy Booth were dead. When this trial ends, they will still be dead. If you want to perpetuate the carnage of March 5, 1982, you can impose the death penalty.”

The jury took just 90 minutes to decide Moore wouldn’t face a firing squad. Instead, he was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences in prison.

Van Sciver was asked if his client felt any remorse for what he’d done.

“He does regret it,” Van Sciver told reporters after the jury’s verdict. “He can’t express it. Remorse is difficult for him to show.”

Ed Moore must have known this about his son because he tried to apologize to both widows. Neither of them said much, and both of them said it brought them no comfort. After the jury decided to let Moore live, Maas said she cried.

“I just remember how upset I was,” she said. “Because I wanted more. … Oh, I was glad that they said he was guilty. But then when they read the sentencing, that’s when I was upset. … I just didn’t think justice was done.”

Prosecutor John T. Nielsen, Tsakalos’ boss, said he was stunned. But he also thought, with two life sentences, Moore would never live free again.

“I thought, good for him,” Nielsen said. “Now, he can’t hurt anybody. I’ll go on to the next one.”

Nielsen, like the families, thought this was the end of their connection to Michael Moore. But they were wrong — all of them.

Dead Men Speak No Lies

By Amy Donaldson, KSL Podcasts

Crime scene photos taken at Log Haven Resort, March 5th, 1982. Credit: Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

SALT LAKE CITY — Carla Maas pulled to a stop in front of the Salt Lake laundry company where her husband worked. She turned off her car, and almost immediately, someone came out of the front door.

But when she looked up, it wasn’t her husband, Buddy Booth.

It was her husband’s boss.

“And I used to work for Peerless so I thought he was just coming out to give me a hard time,” she said.

But then she noticed there was something odd about his demeanor. She rolled down her window.

“And I said, ‘What do you want?'” she said looking down. “That’s when he told me that Buddy had been shot.”

Without thinking, Maas fumbled for her keys, still hanging from the ignition. She needed to get to her husband.

“I tried to start the car, because I was gonna go … where he was,” she said. “I was quite hysterical. … His boss reached in and grabbed my hand and took the keys. He said, ‘Carla, it won’t do you any good. He’s dead.'”

Maas said she thinks she went into shock. She remembers screaming and crying, but she’s not sure how much time passed before her brother-in-law pulled up next to her car.

“They opened the door for me to get out, and I couldn’t move,” she recalled. “I couldn’t feel my legs. … I could feel my hands, my arms, but I couldn’t move. So they had to help me out of the car. Wow. … I was numb. I was just totally numb.”

They drove her to their house, and they insisted she and the girls stay with them. She was reeling, heartbroken, terrified.

She was 23 and now a widow.

How could she pick up the pieces of a life that already felt so fragile?

A rough start

For Maas, life had always been a challenge, something she needed to wrestle into submission.

The 12th of 13 children in a blended family, her parents divorced when she was so young, she has no memories of their marriage. She had almost no relationship with her biological father … until she went to live with him at age 12.

“I was kind of a brat and didn’t want to live at my mom and stepdad’s house anymore,” she said. “And so they sent me to my dad’s. And I was thinking it would be better there, but it was worse.”

Her parents’ attempts to discipline or care for her felt like a cage she had to escape. She skipped school, ran away from home oftentimes with boys, until eventually, it landed her in juvenile lockup.

“They call it ungovernable,” she said of what she was like as a child. “I didn’t want to listen. I wanted to basically be on my own. … I didn’t want to feel like my parents owned me.”

Childhood held no allure for her. So when her caseworker suggested she get permission from the juvenile courts to be considered an adult, she agreed.

“It continued until I was 16,” she said. “And then I was emancipated from my parents.”

She dropped out of high school, moved in with a friend, and started to live life on her terms. But that turned out to be a lot tougher than she had anticipated.

She was just 17 when Buddy Booth and his cousin walked into the all-night diner where she was eking out a living. He was 19, hardworking, and he seemed smitten right away.

“They chose to sit at the counter,” she said. “And I was waiting on him. … Buddy was talking to me. And I just felt flattered because not too many people, you know, guys, said a word to me. They didn’t even notice me, a lot of them. And so I got talking to Buddy. … He was really sweet, and two weeks later, we moved in together.”

Buddy Booth as a young adult. Photo courtesy of Tamie Pipes.

She said Booth was handsome but not in the traditional sense.

“Buddy had red curly hair — really thick, red curly hair,” she said. “He had freckles. And, he was a little bit taller than me (about 5 feet 3 inches).”

Oh, and one more thing, she said. He was missing all his front teeth.

“He had been hit in the mouth with brass knuckles,” she said, giggling. “It didn’t matter to me; it didn’t bother me a bit.”

She liked his unconventional looks. But more than that, she liked who he was.

“I don’t fall for someone who’s perfect and glamorous and all that stuff,” she said. “I fell for the kindness, the caring.”

The two had a lot in common. He also grew up in a blended family. He was the fifth of eight children — 14 if you count half-siblings. And he offered Maas the same thing he’d given his mom and siblings growing up — someone they could rely on.

Booth’s younger sister, Tamie Pipes, said he was the one they all relied on, especially after their mother remarried an alcoholic when he was a teen. Despite losing his childhood to other people’s decisions, he was a happy, playful big brother. Pipes said he played cards, loved music, and made sure his siblings did what they were supposed to do.

Oh, and those teeth he was missing, Pipes said he lost those to an infection when he was a child. But in his defense, it did sound more impressive to lose them in a fight than to an inability to get health care.

A great dad

Maas found out she was pregnant just a few months after they moved in together. She was only 18, and he was 19, but Booth wanted to get married right away. She refused.

“I didn’t want a child to be the reason we got married,” Maas said.

But after the birth of their daughter, Norma, she agreed to get married. Booth wore all white, and she wore her sister’s yellow dress adorned with small flowers.

“It was so pretty,” she said. “We were happy.”

But even their best days were hard. Baby Norma was born with a heart defect, so she spent the first few weeks of her life at the hospital. Booth couldn’t take time off work, but he spent every minute he could at her bedside.

Carla Maas at her home in West Valley City. Photo Credit: Jay Hancock KSL TV.

“We were young parents, and it was so scary,” she said. “And it was tough on him because he always worried about her. … She became his everything.”

Despite the fear and worry of those first weeks, which included an open-heart surgery, Booth embraced fatherhood.

“When he’d come home from work, he’d play with her on the floor,” Maas said. “They would just have fun with each other. … I loved seeing the two of them interact with each other. It was beautiful.”

She pauses to wipe her eyes.

“Buddy was a great dad.”

Stormy marriage

When it came to their marriage, however, there was more turmoil. They fought often, and it only got worse after Norma’s birth. Eventually, Maas decided they needed to separate.

“I left him and took Norma,” she said. “And he was not happy with that one. … He wanted Norma.”

Their arguments shifted to his access to his daughter. And eventually, it escalated to a fight in a parking lot. A stranger called the police, and Norma ended up in foster care while they had to take classes on parenting and see a family counselor. Their daughter was in state custody for around eight months.

“It was terrifying,” Maas said.

But they took the classes and rekindled their desire to make their marriage work. She moved back to their apartment, and they learned they were expecting a second child. About a month after little Dana was born, Norma came home.

They were, once again, a family. But they’d only have three months together before that snowy March morning in 1982.

When Maas woke up, she saw the snow, and the sense of dread she’d been feeling exploded into panic.

“I just had a feeling something was gonna happen,” she said. “I just had this feeling several days before, and it just kept getting stronger and stronger.”

She begged her husband to stay home, but he was already dressed and running a comb through his thick, unruly curls. The 24-year-old father of two sleeping little girls shrugged off her worries.

“But I knew something’s wrong,” she said.

Still, she also knew that if there was one thing Booth was, it was reliable. He never missed work. So she pulled on her coat and drove him downtown to Peerless Laundry.

As she dropped him off, she thought about the fear she felt in her gut. But she was also hopeful. Their problems weren’t solved; but they felt a new sense of commitment, not just to each other, but to their daughters.

They were young — just 23 and 24 — and if there was one thing they thought they had in abundance, it was time.

A man with a gun

Booth climbed into his Chevrolet delivery van undaunted by the weather, with 27 cents and his favorite comb in his pocket. He enjoyed his job and the people he met along the way. The sun was just rising as he turned onto Millcreek Canyon Road.

As he eased the van up the snow-covered driveway at Log Haven restaurant, he noticed another car already outside. It was a Jeep, and the doors were still open. As he got closer, he could see something in the snow.

Then he realized it wasn’t a thing, it was a person.

Crime scene photos taken at Log Haven Resort, March 5th, 1982. Credit: Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

According to police reports, he stepped out of the van, his boots sinking into the unplowed snow. He approached the person and realized it was a man laying face down in the snow. There was blood everywhere, but just as he leaned over the body, someone came rushing out of the restaurant. Booth spun around and came face to face with a man about his age.

“What happened here?” Booth asked.

The man said something, but Booth wasn’t looking at the man anymore. He was looking at the gun that the man was pointing at him.

Booth turned to run just as shots rang out.

‘Looks like murder’

“They are both dead.”

That’s the first thing a Salt Lake County paramedic told deputy Mike Wilkinson when he arrived at Log Haven around 8:15 a.m. on March 5, 1982. Before Wilkinson could react, the paramedic added: “Looks like murder. They are shot.”

The rescue crew stood near a laundry van that was parked on the side of the canyon road in front of the restaurant. The back doors of the van were open, and Wilkinson could see two bodies lying face down. One dressed in black suit pants, a gray jacket and black oxford shoes. The other wore brown pants, brown hunting boots, and a blue jacket — a blue comb stuck out of his left rear pocket.

And then the paramedics pointed at a man standing near them. It was him, they told Wilkinson, who’d found the bodies and called the police.

The man was the restaurant’s manager, Michael Moore. He was young, thin, his curly dark hair cut short, and he wore a plaid shirt tucked neatly into his jeans.

“Mr. Moore appeared quite shaken, and I had him sit in my patrol car,” Wilkinson wrote in his report in 1982. “I asked him if he knew the victims, and he said he thought one was Jordan Rasmussen, the auditor for the owners of Log Haven. He said Jordan’s auto was parked at the mouth of the canyon, that he had passed it coming up. He also said he had a meeting scheduled with Jordan at 8:00. He then stated he needed a drink of water, could he go up to the restaurant. He exited the car and walked up to the driveway going up to the restaurant.”

As he got out of the car, a firefighter approached him.

“One of the firemen asked me if I had noticed the blood on that guy’s face,” the report said.

Wilkinson had not noticed any blood.

Carla Maas at her home in West Valley City. Photo Credit: Jay Hancock KSL TV.

He headed toward the restaurant. When he got inside, he asked Moore, who was holding a napkin, to sit at a table with him. As he sat down, Wilkinson saw blood stains on both knees of his jeans. But there wasn’t blood on his face.

He said Moore was agitated, rambling.

“He was talking about business problems,” the report said. “It’s all crazy. … They set up people. … They’re going to fire us all.”

Wilkinson said he wasn’t sure what happened, but he was certain of one thing. He needed to keep this young man with him until detectives arrived.

Once homicide detectives came, they decided to take Moore downtown to their offices. It would take two interviews, but by 5:30 p.m. that evening, Moore confessed to killing both men.

But his story baffled investigators. And they wouldn’t be alone. Even Moore’s defense team would find his story confusing.

As one prosecutor put it, “It just didn’t add up.”

He Didn’t Deserve to Live

By Amy Donaldson, KSL Podcasts

Flowers being placed at Jordan Rasmussen's grave
A bouquet of yellow daisies, Jordan Rasmussen’s favorite flower, is placed at his grave at Wasatch Lawn Memorial Park and Mortuary in Millcreek on Sunday, March 5, 2023.

SANDY — If Jordan Rasmussen hadn’t been murdered on March 5, 1982, it’s entirely possible that no one would have even remembered his last night alive. It felt like one of those days that ends with a sigh of relief, not a smile of gratitude.

The 32-year-old accountant worked late, agreed to a last-minute, early-morning meeting with a man whose job he was taking and, then, after taking a babysitter home, he found himself locked out of the house on a frigid winter night with his sleep-averse 16-month-old son.

His wife was playing indoor tennis with friends, so he decided to see if a neighbor might rescue him from his frustrating situation.

“He went next door to the neighbor’s to see if they — by chance — had a key to our house, which they didn’t,” said his wife, DeAnn Rasmussen. “They invited him in so he could wait for me to get home. And he said, ‘No, I just want to spend some time with Chad.’ So he went back out to the car and just played with Chad until I got home.”

And that’s the thing that makes this night so memorable for those left missing him in the wake of his violent death.

That decision — to decline the warmth of a friend’s home so he could spend a little one-on-one time with his youngest child — perfectly encapsulates who he was.

Because of all the things that Jordan Rasmussen was in his life — an accomplished accountant, a devoted and only son, a generous friend, a beloved brother, a doting husband and a pretty good tennis player — it was his parenting that almost everyone points to when they remember him.

“Jordan was the best dad,” DeAnn Rasmussen says with a laugh. “He adored his children. He would do anything in the world for them.”

And so, Rasmussen carried his toddler back into their garage, and they took refuge from the cold in the family sedan. Exactly what happened between father and son that night will forever remain a mystery, but it’s easy for DeAnn Rasmussen to imagine it. She’d witnessed similar scenes hundreds of times since they’d become parents eight years earlier.

“I can just picture him being in the car just hugging and laughing and giggling and talking to him,” she said. “That’s the way he was.”

When she returned home that night and realized what had happened, she was overwhelmed with guilt. But her husband assured her it was no big deal. In fact, he told her he’d treasured the solitary snuggle time with 16-month-old Chad. It was a gift at the end of a long, difficult day.

And it would become even more meaningful when Jordan Rasmussen would be found dead outside Log Haven restaurant less than 12 hours later.

The only son

Rasmussen met his wife when he was hired as the 19-year-old manager at a Salt Lake dairy. DeAnn was just 17, a senior in high school, and she wasn’t interested in him — at all.

But his kindness eventually persuaded her to accept an invitation to see “Mary Poppins,” and the rest, as they say, is history. They were married Oct. 8, 1970, and within a decade, they had three children — David, who was 8, Lisa, 5, and that little bedtime-hating toddler, Chad, who was 16-months-old the day his father died.

And while Rasmussen is universally described as a great father, if you really want to understand the kind of person he was, it’s best to ask his older sister, Leslie Rasmussen Moore, about his highly anticipated, but short-lived basketball career.

Picture of Jordan Rasmussen
Jordan Rasmussen pictured on July 23, 1973, the day his first child, David, was born. Jordan was making calls to the family announcing the birth. (Rasmussen family photo)

Even before he was born in 1949, Rasmussen’s father was dreaming of guiding his own child to a career on the court.

And, back then, sports were almost exclusively a man’s world. So when Elden Rasmussen, a World War II veteran and high school teacher, held his baby boy, he saw a bright — and athletic — future.

“He was so excited to have a son,” said Moore, the oldest of Blanche and Elden Rasmussen’s four children. “He was so excited because, oh my golly, this is going to be such a golden thing!”

Those dreams became a real possibility when Jordan grew to be 6 feet 3 inches tall. And while his father loved sports in general, his hoop dreams included a very specific college team — BYU. Father and son talked about him someday playing basketball for Elden Rasmussen’s beloved Cougars. And the first step on that path was signing up for a recreation league team.

It turned out, there was one small problem.

“Jordan would not take the ball from somebody,” Moore said laughing. “It was like, OK, they’ve got the ball, I’m not gonna go steal it. I’ll let them just go down. And that doesn’t go very far.”

Yeah, not many teams are looking for that kind of kindness on the court.

“So, here he was with all the athletic ability, all the height,” Moore said. “But he just didn’t have that drive to destroy people.”

Jordan Rasmussen enjoying Christmas morning
One of the last photos taken of Jordan Rasmussen shows him enjoying Christmas morning 1981 with his three children, Lisa, 5, David, 8, and Chad, 1. (Rasmussen family photo)

Needless to say, Rasmussen did not go on to fulfill his father’s hoop dreams, but he always occupied a special place in his father’s heart. Rasmussen’s older cousin Joseph Rust spent a lot of time at the Rasmussen home, especially when he was a college student in Salt Lake City.

And he said father and son were inseparable — playing tennis and golf together, any time they could find time.

“He and Jordan just did everything,” Rust said. “This was his only son. (From the start) he was pretty excited about Jordan.”

And it was that bond between father and son that would weigh on Rust the morning of March 5, 1982, when he became the first family member to discover what happened to Rasmussen outside the restaurant where two of his three sisters had celebrated their weddings.

Financial struggles

DeAnn and Jordan Rasmussen moved from California, where Jordan Rasmussen worked at a prestigious accounting firm, to Utah, where they hoped to be closer to their families. It was less money, and they couple both worked extra jobs to make ends meet.

“We were struggling,” DeAnn Rasmussen, now DeAnn Kilgore, remembers. “We were behind on our mortgage payments. It was a hard time financially for us.”

It’s one of the reasons he kept a job that had grown complicated and stressful. Jordan Rasmussen worked as the accountant for the iconic Log Haven restaurant. Since its conversion from a wealthy family’s mountain retreat to high-end restaurant, it had become the place for weddings and receptions in the 1980s.

And while Log Haven was very popular, it had been struggling financially. In 1979, two businessmen bought it from a local entrepreneur. But the relationship between the two partners, who owned a number of businesses together, had soured.

In February, the partners told Log Haven’s staff one of the men was going to buy the other out. The only solution to the acrimony between them was a financial split. And like many divorces, it got messy.

Outside view of the Log Haven restaurant
The Log Haven restaurant is pictured in Mill Creek Canyon on the morning two people were killed on March 5, 1982. – Police photo

Rumors of theft and threats were rampant. The staff, including Log Haven’s 25-year-old manager — Michael Moore — were uncertain what this split meant for the restaurant and their jobs. And while a meeting in February was meant to reassure the staff, it only added to the rumors and distrust.

So when Michael Moore called Jordan Rasmussen and asked for that early morning meeting, he agreed. But he wasn’t looking forward to it. Not only were there major financial issues to solve, he was going to replace Moore as manager of the restaurant, although that hadn’t been officially announced yet.

Jordan Rasmussen prepared for bed the night of March 4 with a lot on his mind. And then he said something to his wife that seems, in retrospect, a bit foreboding.

He told her that if his car slid off the road in the canyon the next morning, it might not be an accident. His wife was not worried about his safety, just his stress level. And she dismissed it as a bit of dark humor.

DeAnn Rasmussen was still huddled under the covers when her husband left the next morning.

“Jordan gave me my kiss goodbye,” she recalled, “and he said, ‘I’ll call you soon as my meeting with Mike is over.'”

But she never heard from her husband again.

Lives upended by violence

After taking her two older children to elementary school, DeAnn Rasmussen was just putting little Chad down for a nap when her doorbell rang.

“My doorbell never rings in the middle of the day,” she said. And as she walked to her front door, she saw one of her closest friends and her Latter-day Saint bishop standing on her porch.

“And I thought, ‘Why are they here?'” she remembered. “And I could tell just by the look on their faces that something was not right. … And as I opened the door … I just knew something that happened to Jordan.”

DeAnn Kilgore, wife of Jordan Rasmussen, is photographed at Wasatch Lawn Memorial Park and Mortuary in Millcreek on Sunday, March 5, 2023.

She invited them inside.

“They came in and they said, ‘We have something terrible to tell you.'”

As the bishop began speaking, she grabbed his tie and pleaded, “Don’t tell me. Don’t tell me.”

All of them were in tears as he said, “Jordan was killed this morning.”

DeAnn Rasmussen said she understood the words, but not really what they meant.

“I just immediately went into shock,” she said. “I mean, my body protected myself and I just heard the news and then just went on automatic pilot kind of. … They didn’t know all the details yet. This was still early. They just said something happened up at Log Haven.”

She’d eventually learn he had been shot three times and was left for dead. Before she could even wonder what happened, she was consumed with what would happen to her little family.

“I mean, obviously, your mind immediately goes, ‘How am I going to do this? I have three little kids. How am I going to do this on my own?'” she said.

DeAnn Rasmussen was only 30. She contemplated the trips they’d never take, the milestones her husband would never see and the challenges she’d face alone. Later that day, after returning home from telling her mother-in-law and sister-in-law the bad news, she noticed their cul de sac was crowded with cars.

“And I walked in the house and my house was full of friends, neighbors, family because the word spread as soon as I walked in the house, there were all these people that loved us,” she said, emotion choking her voice. “And it was, just, I knew that I’d have that love and support to get me through.”

To this day, that remains one of the things Jordan Rasmussen’s family still talks about — the crowd at her house. Because so often, when someone suffers a tragedy, it’s difficult to know what to say, when to say it, or if those struggling with grief even want visitors at all. They all said they think about how much it helped to be wrapped in so much love — and how they think of that when they wonder if they should reach out to someone who is struggling with loss.

Chad Rasmussen, son of Jordan Rasmussen, listens as his aunt, Leslie Moore, remembers his father at Wasatch Lawn Memorial Park and Mortuary in Millcreek on Sunday, March 5, 2023.

But there was one thing that DeAnn Rasmussen had to do on her own — tell her children what happened to their father. She took 8-year-old David and 5-year-old Lisa into David’s bedroom and sat between them on David’s twin bed.

“And I said, ‘I have something to tell you,'” she said, stifling a sob. “‘Your dad has been hurt really bad. He’s had an accident. And he’s not gonna come home. He has died.’ And I just remember that’s when it really hit me looking into their sweet little faces … and they adored their dad as much as he adored them. … And that’s when it really became real.”

Everything she had to do in the weeks and months that followed brought a new level of pain. But she wasn’t the only young wife trying to navigate grief and motherhood. Because Jordan Rasmussen wasn’t the only father killed at Log Haven on March 5, 1982.

In another house on the other side of the Salt Lake Valley, another young widow was struggling with those same questions. How do you tell a toddler her dad is never coming home? How do convince an infant the father she can’t remember loved her? And how could she build a good life for them, now that the life she’d planned with her 24-year-old husband was in ruins?

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