Friends fear Utah woman, teen daughter among Caldwell triple homicide victims

New details in Caldwell triple homicide

CALDWELL -- Friends of a Utah woman and her teenage daughter who moved to Idaho last month say their fears are mounting that the pair are among three people found dead in a shed outside a Caldwell home earlier this week.

Nadja Medley, 48, and Payton Medley, 14, moved to the house at 216 KCID Road in May, along with Nadja's boyfriend, 60-year-old Gerald Michael "Mike" Bullinger, friends of both the mother and daughter told KTVB Thursday.

Bullinger was named a "person of interest" in a triple homicide at the home after the bodies of three female victims - ranging in age from a teenager to a woman in her mid-50's - were found hidden on the property Monday. Bullinger remains on the loose, and the subject of a nationwide search. 

Authorities say they have not yet been able to identify the bodies, but acknowledged that all three "appear to be consistent in age and physical stature" with people living at or connected to the address. 

MORE: Homeowner wanted in Caldwell triple homicide investigation

Michelle Holbrook, who has known Nadja and her daughter for years, said Nadja and Bullinger had been dating for more than two years. Both lived in the northern Utah town of Ogden. Nadja, an immigrant from Germany, was a massage therapist, Holbrook said, while Bullinger worked as a commercial pilot.

Holbrook said Bullinger was a father figure to Payton, and treated both the 14-year-old and her mother "like princesses."

Around January, her friend began making plans to move with Bullinger to Caldwell to be closer to his work, she said.

"On May 3, they messaged me that they were getting ready to go," Holbrook said.

The next week, Nadja posted a video on her Facebook page showing the property outside of her new home on KCID Road.

The video pans across the expanse of pasture, the white house set back in a grove of trees, a chicken coop, and the shed where the three bodies were eventually found.

"Well folks, here's my new backyard," she says in the video. "Kind of liking this, just a little bit."

The posts online and conversations continued into June, Holbrook said. Then, on June 8, communication from Nadja abruptly stopped.

Fifteen-year-old Bethany Cagle, who described Payton as her best friend, said Payton went silent at about the same time. The girls talked "constantly" earlier in the day June 8, Cagle said, but when she sent her a Snapchat that evening, Payton did not respond.

Cagle said she was not concerned, figuring her friend was already asleep. She sent another Snapchat the next day, she said, and that one too went unanswered. On June 10, Cagle reached out to Payton's mother, searching for a reason behind her friend's silence.

"I texted her mom, and I was like 'Is she OK, are you guys OK?' and I never heard anything," she said. "I kept texting and calling and nothing happened."

Payton hadn't reached out to any of her other friends either, Cagle said.

"I called about everybody who knew them, but nobody had heard from them, which was very unusual because Payton and them had a laptop, they have their phones, they have tablets," she said. "So, I knew something was wrong."

RELATED3 bodies found partially covered outside Caldwell home

Eventually, a neighbor in Utah called the Canyon County Sheriff, Cagle said.

The three bodies were discovered Monday, June 19, after a deputy went out to the KCID Road house to perform a welfare check. Investigators say each of the female victims had been shot once. All three had died one to two weeks before they were found.

PHOTOS: Nadja and Payton Medley

Dead dogs - the family pets, deputies say - and dead birds were also found on the property.

Bullinger was gone.

Canyon County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Marv Dashiell said Wednesday that a no-bond warrant for failure to report a death had been issued for Bullinger, and that investigators wanted to question him in connection to the three homicides.

Bullinger, who authorities say should be considered "armed and dangerous," was spotted in Ogden, Utah June 11, but has not been seen since, according to Dashiell.

"We have no idea where he would be at this time - that's why we're putting this information out and hoping that somebody may know where he is," he said.

Bullinger is 6'1" and 240 pounds with gray hair and brown eyes, and may be driving a white 2007 Ford Focus with Utah plates 129UMP, authorities say. Anyone who spots him or knows where he might be is urged to contact law enforcement immediately.

Both Holbrook and Cagle expressed disbelief that Bullinger would hurt his girlfriend or her daughter.

Cagle described the suspect as "a normal person" who treated Payton like his own daughter. In turn, the 14-year-old  refered to Bullinger as "Dad."

"Honestly, I thought he was great, he was so kind," Cagle said.

Holbrook agreed.

"Was he a victim of foul play too and he's just missing? Did something happen to him?" she asked. "I just can't wrap my head around it."

Friends of the missing mother and daughter said they are not sure who the third body might be, if Payton and Nadja are indeed among the dead.

"There was no one else that lived there other than Payton and Nadja and Mike," Holbrook said.

County records show that Bullinger purchased the KCID Road house jointly with another woman, Cheryl Baker, on May 3.

Friends tell KTVB that Baker just retired as a teacher in Utah, and that she has been married to Bullinger for 10 years.

Repeated attempts to contact her and her family members have been unsuccessful. The Canyon County Sheriff's Office declined to say whether Baker may be among the three victims. 

Canyon County Coroner Vicki DeGeus-Morris told KTVB Thursday that her office hopes to use dental records and DNA tests to identify the three bodies. The identities could be made public as early as next week, she said.

But Holbrook said hope is dwindling that Nadja and Payton will be found alive.

"They would never, ever, ever not contact us," she said. "They would never drop off the face of the earth." 

 

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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