Utah Department of Public Safety

Highway Patrol - Mental Suspect with an Axe to Grind

On October 14, 1963, a mental subject, Allan Byrd Abraham, age 25, from Long Beach, California, stopped at a gas station in Cedar City just after 1:00 a.m. The station attendant, Abol Saffari, age 25, was an Iranian exchange student. Mr. Saffari filled Mr. Abraham’s car and was returning with change. Suddenly, Mr. Abraham pulled an ax from his car and said, "I am going to kill you." Mr. Abraham then struck Mr. Saffari in the head with the blunt side of the ax, knocking him to the ground. The assailant then used the sharp edge to brutally attack his victim, inflicting deep wounds to Mr. Saffari’s left arm, thigh, leg and ankle. Mr. Saffari’s screams awakened the station manager, Lloyd Cox, asleep in an apartment above the station. The ax wielding attacker then got back into his vehicle and drove away. Mr. Cox was able to record the license number plus a description of the suspect’s vehicle.

Within minutes police were summoned. Utah Highway Patrol dispatcher Bud Bowman called Trooper Gordon Farnsworth at home. The suspect’s vehicle was a white over green 1956 Chevrolet with California plate KGA 301. It was last seen northbound on U. S. 91.

Approximately one mile north of Summit, Trooper Farnsworth spotted the vehicle. He attempted to stop the vehicle, which continued northbound until it reached the Bel Aire Cafe, south of Parowan. The driver immediately exited his car. Trooper Farnsworth ordered him to face his vehicle and put his hands on top of the car. The suspect refused to obey Trooper Farnsworth’s commands. The suspect stood 6 foot 4 inches and weighed over 250 pounds.

Suddenly, the suspect opened his car door and retrieved the ax used to assault the service station attendant. The suspect then struck Trooper Farnsworth in the left side with such force that it separated several ribs from his sternum. At the same time, Trooper Farnsworth drew his weapon and fired. The bullet struck the suspect; however, he showed no signs of being hit. The suspect again struck Trooper Farnsworth, this time in the right hand, inflicting a deep laceration to the wrist. Trooper Farnsworth fired again, striking the suspect a second time. Again the suspect showed no evidence of being shot. At this point Trooper Farnsworth could feel himself losing consciousness. He retreated to his patrol car with the ax wielding suspect continuing to attack. Trooper Farnsworth rapidly fired three more times. The suspect fell backward, still swinging the ax. He died at Trooper Farnsworth’s feet.

Later, an autopsy revealed that all five shots had struck the suspect. Two of the bullets had passed through the suspect’s heart. A background check verified that the ax weilding assailant had recently been released from a Florida Mental Hospital and then returned to his home in San Diego.

Trooper Gordon Farnsworth completed a colorful career with the Utah Highway Patrol, retiring on September 16, 1977, with 24 years of service.

[Last Update - Friday, 20-Dec-2013 11:00:40 MST]