WEST BOUNTIFUL -- Gary Turley is among those people who do not trust banks.
For more than 20 years, whenever he had a little extra cash, he would place a $100 bill, a $2 bill or a silver dollar inside a safe he kept in a back bedroom.
Turley, 52, finally reached his goal of saving almost $200,000. He planned to pay off his mortgage during the first week of September.
The money also included coins and gold certificates worth much more than their face value that he planned to leave to his two daughters as an inheritance if he didn't need them.
But on Sept. 1, Turley's plans came crashing down when four men took the safe and its contents. Also missing were jars of coins, to which he added change every day when he came home.
"I was just sick," Turley said when he found that the safe and coins were gone.
Turley began working when he was 12 and now works six days a week running his heating and air-conditioning business.
His first thought when he saw the gate open to his backyard was someone had harmed his dog, Meika.
After realizing she was OK, he went inside the house and immediately saw doors open that should have been closed.
He then noticed the 30-inch-deep, 18-inch-wide, 31aN2-foot-tall floor safe was gone.
"I was shaking so much I couldn't call police," Turley said.
His neighbor placed the call.
West Bountiful Police Sgt. Corie Hamilton said the case was difficult from the start because everyone, "including Gary, his family, friends and neighbors, were suspects."
But one event caught Hamilton's attention.
The day before the theft, Turley's daughter, her husband and her brother-in-law, Joshua Cameron Watts, came to his house and borrowed Turley's four-wheelers.
Within days, Watts, Steven Kent Hogge, Wayne Jerry Clark and Epifanio Anthony Lee Welch were all charged with second-degree felony burglary and third-degree felony theft.
Watts, 19, of West Valley City, and Hogge, 41, of Murray, have court hearings Tuesday in 2nd District Court. Clark, 24, has a hearing Dec. 13.
A $25,000 arrest warrant has been issued for Welch.
"People who aren't guilty don't hide and don't leave the state," Hamilton said.
Although police suspected Watts, Hamilton said the break came when a motel employee brought a room receipt into the Kaysville police station.
It was suspicious because a man and a woman had checked into a room, bringing no baggage or vehicles, but paid cash for everything.
The man was identified as Watts.
"That was a huge clue," Hamilton said. "It was a big red flag."
Hamilton said at least four agencies worked to find the culprits. West Bountiful police officers also came in on their days off to work on the case.
Then, Layton police were tipped off that a man and a woman had checked into a hotel there, again paying cash for the room. The man turned out to be Watts.
Warrants were issued, and when police entered the room, they found high-ticket items, along with $100 bills, lying around the room, Hamilton said.
Watts was arrested after the search. The woman with him, his girlfriend, is not implicated in the crimes, police said.
"I just don't understand," Turley said. "They used the money to buy stupid stuff and destroyed lives while doing this."
Turley, who attends almost every court hearing of the defendants, said the pain was almost unbearable at first because someone he trusted had betrayed him.
He spent four days sitting on a couch staring at his TV without really watching it.
Turley said it took him almost two weeks before he could go back to work.
Turley knows that some people believe it wasn't smart to stash cash in a safe in his home. However, he said it is no different from collecting stamps or firearms.
Hamilton said she was surprised when an agent with the U.S. Treasury Department contacted her and said it planned to investigate Turley.
Turley said it boggles his mind he may need to hire an attorney to defend himself, even though all he did was save his money in a home safe instead of a bank account.
One of those arrested returned $30,000 to Turley, Hamilton said, but no other funds have been recovered.
Turley said he put the funds into a money market account that will pay him $70 in interest over five years.