Rockville, Utah, murder of Mary Parker, Mormon history


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On her fateful 63rd birthday in April 1880, Mary Parker was lured to the outskirts of the small southern Utah town of Rockville, where she falsely expected to reunite with a disgraced son. There, she was “outraged” and murdered, her throat slit and her body left under a pile of rocks. Mary Parker’s tragic story was once a sensational news item that shocked the rural community and was indignantly reported and followed throughout the state. Her presumed murderer was swiftly identified as Jared Dalton, the twenty-two-year-old son of a Latter-day Saint polygamist and his fifth wife. With such compelling elements as murder, witchcraft, imprisonment at the territorial penitentiary, prison escape and recapture, anti-Mormon and polygamist tensions, and Jared’s scandalous special treatment from the warden, this story has nevertheless faded from the collective memory. This presentation gathers together for the first time a recounting of Mary Parker’s grim death and an exploration of Jared Dalton’s murder investigation, trial, and imprisonment, as well as his return to seemingly normal life after serving only five years of his sentence, having been pardoned by the governor for “good behavior.” Investigating Jared’s journey through the 19th century territorial justice system provides insight into Utah’s pre-statehood political climate.

Original Publication Citation

Wiederhold, Rebecca A. “Pardon for Murder: Jared Dalton, the ‘Assassin of Old Mother Parker’.” Presented at Utah’s 66th Annual State History Conference, West Valley, Utah, September 28, 2018.

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Utah's 66th Annual State History Conference




Harold B. Lee Library

University Standing at Time of Publication

Assistant Professor