TAYLORSVILLE — Margaret Steffey, 59, spent most of her adult life with health problems that limited her activities, according to family members.
But after moving to Utah and meeting the man who would become her husband, her life changed.
"In the last few years, especially after she met and married her husband, she was a much happier person and much more likely to be someone who was helpful. She was trusting to a fault," Steffey's brother-in-law, Curtis Barefield, said Sunday from his home in South Carolina.
Whether that trusting nature played a role in her death was unknown Sunday.
Last week, Steffey was found dead in her home, 3973 W. Blue Meadow Drive (5850 South), by police officers who were called by concerned family members who hadn't her from her for awhile. There were no signs of forced entry or a break-in at Steffey's house. Detectives believe she was suffocated.
Saturday about 7 a.m., Unified police arrested Bryan Steve Quintanilla, 18, for investigation of aggravated murder. When he was arrested, investigators found he was in possession of an airline ticket to leave the country in just a couple of hours.
Detectives had been tracking Quintanilla because he was allegedly using one of Steffey's ATM cards that was missing from her house.
But Barefield said he isn't sure Steffey's death was simply over a debit card theft. Her mother died last year, and Steffey was in the process of receiving inheritance money, he said.
"I think that he had some idea that he would have some access to the funds she was due to inherit. I mean, the fact that he would kill her over a debit card is preposterous to me. But people are capable of a lot of things and there is evil in the world and this appears to be case of evil and stupidity," he said.
Steffey was born into a military family. Her father was a colonel in the U.S. Air Force and served combat duty in World War II, Barefield said. Steffey was born while her parents were living in Guam.
"She's grown up all over the world," Barefield said.
Steffey lived in places such as Germany and Air Force bases across the United States, he said. She had two brothers and a sister. One of her brothers preceded her in death.
Steffey wanted to be a special ed teacher, but, "she had medical issues that prevented her from fulfilling that dream," Barefield said.
When she moved to Utah she met Donald Steffey, a longtime Greyhound Bus driver, he said. They were soon married. The couple did not have any children. Donald Steffey died of cancer two years ago, Barefield said.
Margaret Steffey had lived a "sheltered and restricted" life because of her medical issues, Barefield said. She had had surgeries to treat seizures which limited her physical activity. But after meeting her husband, she was able to travel more because of his employment and see family members who live in the Northwest, and became a more outgoing person overall, he said.
"That happiness remained with her after he passed. He had a significant impact on her life," Barefield said. "She had the opportunity to really blossom with him."
The man accused of causing Steffey's death was reportedly an acquaintance, possibly a roommate or former roommate of a man who did yardwork for Steffey, whom she knew well, according to Barefield.
Sheriff's investigators said since Steffey's death, Quintanilla had apparently been living out of his car.
"I hope the system works as designed and that the court is able to verify his guilt, or not. And if he's found guilty I hope he receives the full penalty that the law will allow. The family is still operating in a state of shock. It's certainly not something that you expect to happen during Holy Week and as you prepare for Easter, to find out that a sibling, a family member, has met their demise," Barefield said.
Barefield said family members were now planning to hold memorials in Utah and Washington state in about two weeks before burying her next to her husband in Utah.
Email: email@example.com, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam