Krystal Beslanowitch, Joseph Michael Simpson: Watch ‘Murder Decoded Murder On The Rocks’, Profiling Utah Cold Case


Krystal Beslanowitch and the case of Joseph Michael Simpson airs tonight on Investigation Discovery’s crime TV show Murder Decoded. The show title is “Murder on the Rocks,” and it will dramatize the events of the 1995 murder of Krystal Beslanowitch, a teen who was murdered in Utah. Joseph Michael Simpson (Joseph Simpson) was convicted of her murder 17 years later. He is serving a life sentence without the chance for parole.

Murder Decoded: episode “Murder on the Rocks” on Investigation Discovery (ID)

A riverbank holds clues after two ranchers find the body of a teen lying face down under the glistening sun. But it will take years of detective work and new technology in DNA to help crack the case.


In December of 1995, two ranchers working the land near the Provo River found the naked body of a young woman on the bank. When detectives arrived and turned the body over, they were shocked to see the victim had no face. Whoever had attacked her used great force in what police described as overkill. Bloodied rocks were most likely used in the slaughter, according to the Daily Mail.


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Who Is This Jane Doe?

Back at a hotel miles away in Salt Lake City, a man was waiting for his girlfriend, Tracey Beslanowitch to return. She left several nights earlier to walk to the local gas station for food. He hadn’t heard from her since. The boyfriend was watching the nightly news when he saw a sketch artist’s tattoos of a woman who had been found dead. He called police to tell them the dead woman was probably his girlfriend.

Background of Krystal Beslanowitch

The boyfriend explained that he had been dating Beslanowitch for a year and that she worked the streets for money. She had been a runaway but settled in Utah with him. He didn’t have a job, and Tracey was supporting them both. He told detectives when she didn’t come back, he walked to the gas station to ask about her. The clerk said the woman never came into the store.

The Beslanowitch family was notified. Detectives learned that the dead woman was using a fake name. Her real name was Krystal Beslanowitch, the stepsister of Tracey Beslanowitch, according to her stepfather. The man said he used to be married to Krystal’s mother, and that Krystal’s biological father drowned when she was four-years-old. Her background was terribly sad. And he never thought she ever had a chance to make it.


An autopsy report showed Krystal Beslanowitch died of blunt force trauma, stemming from over a dozen blows to the head and face. She struggled as evidenced by the defensive wounds on her hands. A puncture wound on her foot indicated she had been running before she stopped to sit on a rock and remove her socks.


A few days after the body was found, detectives got a lead from a man who admitted that he saw Krystal the day before at the hotel. He also told police that he was in love with her and wanted to marry her so she wouldn’t have to work the streets anymore. This admission put him at the top of the suspect’s list because he was an older man who seemed to be a bit obsessed with her. During the investigation, police also learned that he would become jealous if he saw her out with another man, especially her African American boyfriend.


With no evidence against the two suspects, investigators preserved everything they could from the scene and periodically re-tested the DNA evidence. However, there were no new leads.

By 2013, a new type of DNA extracting tool called M-Vac offered hope. It ruled out Krystal Beslanowitch’s former boyfriend and her admirer. But it extracted a profile of a man who had never been on the radar for Krystal’s murder. Joseph Michael Simpson was a match to the DNA found on the rock that killed Krystal. In addition to the M-Vac match, a discarded cigarette butt that belonged to Simpson was also used to get DNA evidence, which matched evidence at the crime scene.


Police say Joseph Michael Simpson had killed someone before. In 1987, he stabbed a co-worker to death over a girl he liked at his job. He was on parole at the time he met and killed Krystal. Wasatch County investigators believe Krystal Beslanowitch left the motel on foot at about 8:45 p.m. But she didn’t go to the store. Instead, she got into Joseph Simpson’s car and left with him. At some point, Joseph Michael Simpson drove her to an isolated location and did something that scared her. She most likely ran from the car with no clothes on and stepped on something that punctured her foot. Once she took off her socks and folded them neatly, she was struck repeatedly with the granite rock until she died.


To get the full story, watch Murder Decoded: “Murder on the Rocks” tonight at 10/9 p.m. Central on ID.


[Main image via ID/with permission]

Traciy Curry-Reyes

Traciy Curry-Reyes is the founder and editor-in-chief of TV Crime Sky. She began her career as a true crime & entertainment freelance writer in the 1990's for her website, The Movies Based on True Stories Database/Archives. She has contributed content to other websites, such as and Traciy also appears as a true-crime expert and commentator on TV One's Fatal Attraction, For My Man, and Justice by Any Means; Investigation Discovery's Murder Calls and Scorned; Oxygen's Snapped; FOX's Crime Watch Daily; and Lifetime Television's Killer Kids.