Maren R. Carlson

Carlson, circa 2021

  • Missing Since 11/01/2021
  • Missing From West Valley City, Utah
  • Classification Endangered Missing
  • Sex Female
  • Race White
  • Age 99 years old
  • Height and Weight 4'11, 85 pounds
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description Light pink pajamas with a floral print and possibly a robe.
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian female. Gray hair.

Details of Disappearance

On November 12, 2021, a woman called 911 in the 3300 block of South Greenmont Drive and said her husband, Garman Shaun Cunningham, had been holding her against her will since November 1 and had beaten her. She was finally able to escape by jumping over a fence, and called for help from a neighbor's phone. She has not been publicly named.

When police responded, they noticed Cunningham's wife had various wounds all over her body, including head wounds, open sores and healing burns. She said her husband had beaten her, cut her with knives and broken glass, burned her with her cigarettes, choked her on several occasions, threatened her with a gun and kept her handcuffed to a chair. She was not permitted to eat or sleep very much and had been forced to drink WD-40 during her captivity.

Cunningham barricared himself inside the home and there was a thirty-minute standoff, during which time the police heard Cunningham fire three shots and the sound of windows breaking and large objects being moved. When Cunningham eventually came out of the house, he had a sword and tried to run before a police dog grabbed hold of him.

Carlson lived with the Cunninghams, and she was not in the house after after her grandson's arrest. Cunningham's wife said that on November 1, he had attempted to smother Carlson and beaten her with his bare fists. She saw Carlson's head "cave in" and Cunningham then threw his grandmother down a flight of stairs before choking his wife.

When he realized his grandmother was not dead, Cunningham's wife stated, he carried Carlson up the stairs and threw her down a second time, stabbed her in the neck with a piece of her broken walker and threw her down a second flight of stairs, this one leading to the basement. Cunningham's wife saw him go into the basement with a steak knife to "finish her off."

He then carried Carlson's body to the garage, and his wife heard him wrapping it in tape and plastic. Cunningham later told his wife he drove up a mountain, dumped Carlson's body off the side of the road, and rolled it down an incline so drivers would not see her.

A forensic search turned up evidence of a large amount of blood in several locations in the house consistent with the wife's story: the base of the stairs, the downstairs laundry room, and the garage. There was also evidence that someone had tried to clean this up, and all the carpeting and furniture in Carlson's bedroom had been removed.

Multiple live rounds and discharged bullet casings were found in various parts of the home, and authorities also located various knives, two guns, handcuffs, and swords. A dumpster which was delivered to Cunningham's home on November 4 contained a broken walker, bedding, clothing, carpeting, cleaning supplies, a shower curtain and other items, all of which were covered in human blood matching Carlson's DNA.

In December 2021, Cunningham was charged with aggravated murder and aggravated kidnapping, both first-degree felonies; obstructing justice, a second-degree felony; and two counts of aggravated assault and three counts of illegal discharge of a firearm, both third-degree felonies. He was awaiting trial for those offenses when, while in police custody in March 2022, he died by suicide.

Carlson's remains have never been recovered. Authorities believe her grandson dumped her body in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest near State Route 150 Mirror Lake Highway, or State Route 35. He may have also left a black plastic bag that "could hold evidentiary value" in the Kamas, Utah area; electronic evidence from his phone indicates he was there after Carlson's reported death.

Foul play is suspected in her disappearance due to the circumstances involved.

Investigating Agency

  • West Valley City Police Department 801-840-4000

Updated 1 time since October 12, 2004. Last updated August 25, 2023; casefile added.