Apr 22, 2024 - History

Utah's Hi-Fi murders shocked the nation 50 years ago

An old news article is headlined "Three murdered as burglars invade ogden record shop."

The Ogden Standard Examiner, April 24, 1974. Image from Utah Digital Newspapers via the University of Utah

Editor's note: This story contains graphic descriptions of violence.

Fifty years ago today, a group of men tortured five hostages and killed three during a robbery in an Ogden audio equipment shop, in one of the most notorious crimes in Utah history.

  • This is Old News, where we turn back the pages of Utah history — even when we don't really want to look.

What drove the news: Four men held up two employees at gunpoint in the Hi-Fi Shop on April 22, 1974, binding them in the basement and robbing the store.

  • A 16-year-old boy arrived to speak with the shop owner and was also taken hostage, along with his mother and the father of an employee, both of whom had shown up to look for their kids.

Content warning: The men forced the victims to drink drain cleaner, believing it would kill them.

  • When the hostages didn't die, their attackers shot four of them, killing two. A fifth victim, an 18-year-old employee, was raped before being fatally shot.

Who survived: Only the 16-year-old, who had severe brain damage from the gunshot, and the employee's father, Orren Walker, who suffered permanent injuries.

Those men, Dale Pierre and William Andrews were convicted later that year and executed in 1987 and 1992, respectively.

  • A third airman who waited in the getaway car was later convicted of robbery.
  • Other people at the scene — two in the store and one in a getaway car — weren't identified.

Friction point: Amnesty International and the NAACP sought to reverse Pierre and Andrews' death sentences, arguing the two men, who were Black, faced racial bias in the trial.

  • Advocates pointed out that a note with a racial slur was passed to the jury during sentencing and noted that Andrews was convicted of murder despite not being accused of directly killing any of the victims.
  • The jury, and the victims, were all white.

The bottom line: The chilling case has been used to instruct FBI trainees in classifying crimes and was re-enacted in a 1991 TV movie.

Previously in Old News

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