This story is part of a collaborative project between Project: Cold Case and a University of North Florida Journalism class.
Jenny Atkinson had an incredibly upbeat personality and a smile that could light up a room.
Her family hasn’t seen that smile since 2012.
Jenny grew up in Brigham City, Utah, just an hour north of Salt Lake City. She was the second youngest of seven children.
“From the beginning of her life, she was a fighter,” her sister Sheree Thomas said.
Jenny was born three months earlier than expected and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. She walked with a significant limp due to her diagnosis.
Cerebral palsy made Jenny different from other kids in school, which led to her being bullied and struggling to make friends.
Jenny would do anything for a friend. Sheree believes that quality was one of her sister’s downfalls. Jenny became involved with the wrong group of people in high school after being bullied so much.
After high school, Jenny became a single mother when she welcomed her son Jace into the world. A few years after giving birth, Jenny began to struggle with drugs.
The drug usage got to a point where Jenny recognized that she needed help. Her sister Lori took care of Jace while Jenny admitted herself into a rehab facility in Las Vegas. She wanted to get clean for herself and her son.
After completing rehab and returning home to Brigham City, Jenny enlisted at Bridgerland Technology College in town. She was in school when she went missing in 2012.
On July 17, 2012, Jenny dropped 12-year-old Jace off for a sleepover with friends.
The next morning, Jenny didn’t come to pick her son up. She wasn’t answering text messages or phone calls from her family.
After a few days of calling around and asking everyone if they had seen Jenny, her father Arthur reported her missing on July 23rd.
Three weeks after last being seen, Jenny’s body was found on August 10th by a group of kids camping and hiking at the Dock Flat Campground in Mantua, just a few miles from Brigham City. It was the same area that Jenny and her family frequented when she was younger.
Jenny’s body was severely decomposed, leaving her only to be identified by the tattoo on her shoulder that included her son’s name and praying hands.
The ravine where Jenny was found was so steep that a search and rescue team had to help retrieve her body.
According to a trail website, Dock Flat Campground is located a mile and a half up the canyon. Jenny’s father said in a news article that the roads up in the mountains are rough and that Jenny would never drive her small and low car to the campground. Her family also said that she could not have made it down the ravine because of her cerebral palsy.
Sheree said that Jenny had a hard time walking on the flat ground let alone down in a ravine. Jenny’s navy Toyota Scion was found several hundred yards away from her body.
The family was torn apart after the murder. Sheree stated that she doesn’t keep in contact with her family anymore. Jenny’s murder was hard on the entire family.
During the tough times in her life, Jenny stayed strong with her faith. Scripture and Jesus were always important to Jenny.
“Jesus was the center of her life,” Sheree stated.
Sheree remembers her sister every day. But every year on the date of her death, she makes a Facebook post about Jenny’s murder. She hopes that these posts will keep her sister’s case alive as she continues to fight for justice.
If you have any information on the unsolved murder of Jenny Atkinson, please call the Box Edler County Sheriff’s Department at (435) 734-3800.
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