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A Utah man accused of fatally shooting his girlfriend last month has been found dead hundreds of miles away in Oregon, authorities said.
Michael Grant Asman’s white Chevrolet pickup truck was found on Monday afternoon by a U.S. Forest Service Ranger in Oregon's Wallowa State Park — near the state's border with Washington and Idaho — according to a Heber City Police Department press release sent to Oxygen.com.
The ranger called the Wallowa County Sheriff’s Office, and a responding deputy found Asman's decomposing body about 100 yards from the truck. He was wearing the same clothes as the day he disappeared and had an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. A handgun was also recovered at the scene.
Asman had been the center of a month-long manhunt after authorities in Utah issued a warrant for his arrest in the July murder of his girlfriend, 36-year-old Julie Ann Burns.
Officials said an autopsy to positively identify Asman’s remains — as well as determine a cause and manner of death — would be conducted in Wallowa County, Oregon on Wednesday. They suspect that Asman’s body had been at Wallowa State Park for a number of days.
“I know he’s been deceased for a good period of time just based on the body’s condition,” Detective Joshua of the Heber City Police Department told Oxygen.com on Wednesday. “So we’re still waiting today until we can get the medical examiner’s exact time of death and 100 percent identification.”
“We’re going to have to figure out where he’s been the past couple weeks,” Weishar added.
Asman's girlfriend, Julie Burns was found murdered at her home in Heber City, Utah around 10:30 a.m. on July 14, by a coworker who'd became concerned after Burns failed to arrive at her job, according to KTSU. An autopsy showed she'd been killed by a single gunshot to her head.
Authorities suspect that Asman gunned down his girlfriend at approximately 1:00 a.m.; her two daughters were inside the residence at the time of the deadly shooting, KTVX reported.
According to court documents obtained by the stations, the two girls told detectives that they heard their mom and Asman arguing, followed by a single gunshot.
"The child stated after the gunshot Michael had them come downstairs and told them to close their eyes as they walked out of the house," the documents reportedly stated. Asman called another relative, and that person picked up the children from their home.
He fled shortly thereafter, and was last seen on on a Heber City gas station surveillance camera around 1:30 a.m., filling up his truck and buying energy drinks, according to KSTU.
For weeks, Asman eluded detection, though officials said at the time that he had "a history of camping in the mountains." He reportedly initiated no bank transactions in the wake of Burns' murder, and officials aren't clear yet how his body wound up in an Oregon state park roughly 750 miles away from Heber City.
Detectives are also sifting through Asman’s Chevrolet and his other personal belongings found near the site of his remains for any additional clues that could explain his movements in the days leading up to his death.
“We’ll just have to backtrack from there,” Weishar said. “We’re just trying to figure out where he was, if he came back on the grid, so to speak.”
Asman had been arrested by Heber City police on charges of domestic violence assault on June 12, after an incident in which he was accused of punching Burns and then dragging her by a vehicle. He was out on bail at the time of her killing, but KTSU reported that the documents filed in support of Asman's murder charges stated that the ankle monitor had been possibly removed before the murder. Officials had allegedly been dispatched to his home for a "welfare check" on Asman the day before Burns died, but were unable to make contact.
“It’s tragic on both sides,” Weishar said. “We’ve been working at the department trying to just have some sort of resolution to this case, trying to find some sort of closure for the kids, and for the victims in the case."
"It sucks the way it turned out — we don’t get to talk to [Asman] at all, we don’t get to talk to [Burns] at all about any of this," he added. "We just have to go off of physical evidence and anything we can find that will explain it.”
In the weeks since her murder, Burns’ family has been left questioning why the courts granted Asman bail at all.
“She’s blatantly told them he was gonna kill her if he got out, so the fact that he got bail and he was granted permission to leave is beyond me,” Angela Edmunds, Burns’ sister, told KTVX. “After running her over with a car three weeks ago — is insane, and only got an aggravated assault for that? It’s baffling. The system to me, it basically gave him the ‘OK’ to go kill my sister.”
"We are upset, confused and don't understand how [something] like this could slip through the cracks," she told KTSU. "If he was wearing his monitor bracelet we don't understand how he was able to even get that close to her without them being notified."
Edmunds described her sister as an “amazing” woman who loved her family.
“She was the best mom, the best sister,” Edmunds added. “Just pray for her girls.”
No other information was immediately available from officials on Wednesday afternoon.
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