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Moab, UT

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    A man with a history of domestic violence and purported ties to the wealthy former owners of a Major League Baseball team has been arrested after, according to the Grand County Sheriff’s Office, he beat a woman so badly investigators believed she might die. She was hospitalized with a brain bleed and other injuries.

    James Thomas Murphy
    James Thomas Murphy

    James Thomas Murphy, 50, was taken into custody shortly after he called 911 on June 1 to report a woman having a seizure, according to a police report. Doctors ruled out a seizure and instead called law enforcement after an air ambulance crew took her to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction, Colorado.

    A woman with whom Murphy has been in a relationship with for about three months had, in addition to the brain bleed, severe bruising all around her neck, face, cranium, both hands, her back, both legs, both arms and her right hip. “These injuries are consistent with someone being assaulted with hands, and being stomped or kicked when lying on the ground in the fetal position,” wrote the investigating deputy.

    The woman initially told police that six men attacked her while she was riding her bike on 400 East in Moab.

    She changed her story after deputies told her they found blood evidence in the living room, bedroom and kitchen of Murphy’s home. There was blood smeared on a wall at a height that indicated whoever left it was crawling at the time.

    She told deputies that she never suffered from seizures and admitted that Murphy was her alleged attacker, saying the beatings were carried out over the course of three days.

    Hospital staff told deputies that the woman’s right ankle was broken previously and never treated. She said Murphy stomped on it. There was evidence, they said, of being choked; both eyes were blackened and swollen nearly shut. Her hands were in pillowed gloves to prevent further injury, and deputies believe there might be tread marks in the bruise on her hip, which they said was consistent with a stomping.

    Her face had bruises consistent with being gripped tightly with a right hand. The inside of her right thigh was also bruised and scraped by an apparent bite wound, according to the report.

    Investigators learned that Murphy was charged with domestic violence a decade ago. The deputy who wrote the report was involved in that case and recalled the victim said Murphy kicked her while she was down and tried to suffocate her with a pillow.

    The woman in the prior incident said she was beaten because she did not engage in sex with Murphy “quick enough.” The woman also told deputies in 2010 that Murphy has “access to mass amounts of money through his family,” which supposedly used to own the Cincinnati Reds baseball team. “This is a red flag for law enforcement as Murphy could very well flee the area and become near impossible to find given his family’s financial resources and possible connections,” wrote the deputy in his report.

    The alleged victim in the current case was interviewed a second time June 3. The woman signed a no-contact order.

    She then provided a highly disturbing narrative. She told investigators she “normally just lay down and let Murphy kick her until he stopped. This time, she said, he stomped on the front and back of her neck and beat her with his hands. She said Murphy implied he had beaten other women. After trying to again blame someone else, the woman told investigators she was protecting Murphy because he saved her brother’s business. “I told her that her brother’s business was not worth her life.”

    The abuse, she said, had been going on for about three months. She said her untreated ankle was broken a month or two ago.

    The woman also volunteered that Murphy would brutally rape her after the beatings; a disclosure that might lead to additional charges being filed.

    In asking for Murphy to be held in custody without bail, the deputy wrote: “The victim has been beaten consistently in the recent past and is afraid of the suspect. The escalation in the suspect’s behavior over time is a textbook example of escalating domestic violence. History has shown that this behavior, when not taken with the utmost seriousness, regularly results in the death of a victim.

    “The suspect has access to near-limitless funds according to his ex-wife and is a substantial flight risk if allowed to leave given the resources his family has access to …[T]he suspect has a history of strangulating and suffocating his paramours. His proclivity to damage these people is concerning in and of itself. What is far more concerning is the amount of damage that he has attempted to do to these people in the past and the damage that he is accused of currently. The injuries sustained by the victim were clearly life-threatening and she had to be given treatment out of state to assure that her life would not end.”

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