Utah Pageant Winner Accused of Throwing Bombs
A woman who recently was crowned Miss Riverton after wowing the judges on the piano is accused of exercising a more sinister talent -- cooking up homemade bombs and throwing them from a car.
Kendra McKenzie Gill and three others were arrested Saturday after allegedly tossing makeshift explosives in neighborhoods at least nine times. Police said the four 18-year-olds admitted buying plastic bottles, aluminum foil and household chemicals before assembling the devices.
"They were throwing them at both property and people," Unified Fire Authority Capt. Clint Mecham told KUTV-TV, adding that nobody was injured. "This goes well beyond a teenage prank."
Gill was booked on suspicion of 10 counts of detonating an incendiary device. She didn’t appear on the Salt Lake County jail roster Monday morning, and no phone number for her was listed.
The others arrested in the case were John Patrick Reagh, Shanna Marie Smith and Bryce Christopher Stone. It wasn’t immediately clear if any of the four had an attorney.
Stone reportedly told police that he and his friends were "pranking" with fireworks.
But fire officials said the devices -- which can spew caustic chemicals and shrapnel when they burst -- can be very dangerous.
"They can do a great deal of damage to property," Mecham told KSL-TV. "They can sever limbs. They can even kill people."
Gill topped a slate of nine beauty contestants earlier this summer, showing off her years of piano training with a Scott Joplin number and taking home a $2,000 scholarship.
As part of her platform, "Fit to be You," she planned to establish workout groups and encourage healthy body image, the South Valley Journal reported shortly after the pageant.
"You don’t have to look just a certain way," Gill was quoted as saying. "It’s about being healthy and happy."
Before competing in a local pageant, contestants sign a contract certifying they’ve never been convicted of a crime and have no pending charges against them. If circumstances change after the contract is signed, pageant officials have the right to revoke a contestant’s title.
Riverton pageant officials were expected to issue a decision in Gill’s case Monday, according to Justi Lundeberg, a spokeswoman for the Miss Utah pageant.
The Miss America Organization "requires a lot of these young women -- that they’re living a good life, a clean life," Lundeberg said, adding that she hoped the incident was a misunderstanding. "This is such an unfortunate event. We haven’t had to deal with this before."
About 40,000 people live in Riverton, which is 20 miles south of Salt Lake City.