A woman and her dog died in a fire on Saturday after her boyfriend locked them inside a self-storage unit at a CubeSmart self-storage facility in Murray, Utah. The cause of the fire at 9608 S. 900 E. is still under investigation, according to sources.
Morgan Kay Harris, 27, and her dog, Huck, were found dead just before 5 p.m. Firefighters had to pry open the unit door to extinguish the blaze, which had spread to five adjacent spaces in the single-story structure. Investigators haven’t released information about who rented the unit.
Harris was a model and makeup artist. She had recently started a new job in Draper, Utah, as a medical assistant, according to a statement from her family.
Alexander Wardell, 30, was arrested on Sunday on one felony charge of kidnapping and one charge of negligent homicide. He admitted to police that he locked Harris inside the unit, then left the facility on foot before the fire began.
Wardell was released from jail the day before the incident after posting a $5,000 bond for a probation violation. It was his fifth transgression related to a 2018 incident in which he was found guilty of third-degree aggravated assault and criminal mischief. He beat his former girlfriend with a golf club and threatened her with a knife, sources reported.
Following more than seven months in jail, Wardell pleaded guilty to the initial charges to avoid a five-year prison sentence. He was given 36 months of probation, which he violated in January 2021, resetting it. Wardell violated it several more times, and spent time in jail before being released to a sober-living house in March 2022. In August, his probation officer recommended the court revoke his probation status due to his consistent violations, but he remained free until his Feb. 16 arrest.
CubeSmart owns or manages 1,280 self-storage facilities across the United States. Its operating portfolio comprises about 88 million square feet.
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