Details, rumors around Ogden man's Halloween death proving difficult to confirm

Thursday , November 09, 2017 - 5:15 AM

JACOB SCHOLL, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — Longtime Ogden resident Carla Rodriguez said she heard the news of a man killed at a Halloween party and wondered if it was someone she knew. 

When she called her boyfriend’s phone and a friend picked up instead, she learned the terrible news. 

“That someone turned out to be my someone,” Rodriguez said.

RELATED: Police: 1 dead after fight breaks out at Halloween party in Ogden

It’s now been almost two weeks since the death of William Torrence, and details of that Saturday night are still difficult to confirm, although rumors about the case are circulating in the community.

Police responded to a call of a large fight at 700 24th St., near Lester Park in Ogden, Saturday, Oct. 28, according to a press release from the Ogden Police Department.

When the dust cleared, they found Torrence unresponsive and took him to a local hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. 

Police have an outline of what happened but are still looking for additional witnesses to fill in the details.

Capt. Danielle Croyle of the Ogden Police Department said the incident began with a car that stopped near 684 24th St. to allow pedestrians to cross the road. A vehicle behind the stopped car became impatient, tried to pass the stopped car and nearly hit the pedestrians, Croyle said.

As the impatient vehicle drove away, a bystander apparently threw something at the vehicle, which led to the driver turning the car around and approaching the pedestrians. When the occupants of the vehicle approached the pedestrians, a fight broke out, Croyle said.

Police are still investigating the incident, and they have interviewed more than 50 witnesses so far, according to Lt. Tim Scott.

Even with the high number of interviewees, Scott said police still want to talk to a handful of people. 

Scott said the investigation is complex, but it’s a high priority case with multiple units within the department working on it. 

Torrence’s death is still being investigated as a possible homicide, but Scott said it’s difficult to definitively say if the death is a homicide until the full autopsy report is finalized by the state medical examiner’s office. 

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Last week, Scott told the Standard-Examiner that detectives from the major crimes unit traveled to Salt Lake City to observe the autopsy Monday, Oct. 30, and said they did not find any immediate signs of homicide-related injuries.

When asked to elaborate on the injuries found on Torrence’s body, Scott said there were no signs of significant trauma. Essentially, he said, there were no gunshot wounds, stab wounds or significant signs of blunt force trauma.

As far as the exact details of the preliminary autopsy report, Scott said releasing additional details may compromise the investigation. 

A number of rumors have circulated regarding the attack, including whether or not Torrence’s death was motivated by the fact that he was a black man. People on social media have claimed that racial slurs were used over the course of the fight and that it should be investigated as a hate crime. 

Scott said initial reports, based on testimony gathered from witnesses at the scene, suggested the fight was not racially motivated and that slurs were not used, and reports saying the contrary have only surfaced on social media. However, police are open to learning more from additional wtinesses. 

If Torrence’s death is determined to be a homicide and people are arrested in connection to his death, it would be up to the Weber County Attorney’s Office to decide if his death was a hate crime. This would potentially result in a larger punishment to those arrested, Scott said. 

If those who witnessed the fight are hesistant to talk to police, Soctt said they can call or email detectives at any time, and do not have to talk to police in person. 

All witnesses who have not yet talked to police are encouraged to call Detective Larry Lewis at 801-629-8438 or email the police at [email protected]

Contact reporter Jacob Scholl at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @Jacob_Scholl.

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