Charges: Athlete killed wife in condo, crawled outside, made up "attack" story

Anthony D. McClanahan and Keri McClanahan

KUTV

SALT LAKE CITY -- A former professional football player slashed his wife's neck and then crawled on the ground outside their rented Utah condominium before concocting a story about an attack by assailants, prosecutors said in murder charges filed Monday.

The bloody scene in the ski town of Park City indicated that Keri "KC" McClanahan, 28, put up a desperate struggle before she was killed.

Police found her husband, Anthony D. McClanahan, 46, covered in blood and crawling on his stomach outside the condominium complex where the couple had rented a unit early in the morning of Nov. 2. A resident of the complex had called 911 to report they'd seen him crawling low to the ground through the hallways and calling for help, and a police sergeant who happened to be driving by on patrol spotted McClanahan outside about three minutes later, reports the Salt Lake Tribune.

He lifted himself up just enough to flag down a police officer, then dropped back down and began convulsing, his arms making a "snow angel motion," the officer on scene told prosecutors.

McClanahan reportedly said he and his wife and baby had been attacked and gave a description of two to three alleged assailants. But he allegedly refused to tell police where his wife was after being asked several times, reports CBS affiliate KUTV.

Officers saw injuries to McClanahan's face, neck, wrist, arms, and torso, as well as blood on his bare feet, reports CBS affiliate KUTV. The injuries were later determined to be superficial.

After a "lengthy search" of the complex, according to charging papers cited by the Salt Lake Tribune, investigators found the condo with its door ajar and blood on the door and floor. Inside was Keri McClanahan's body.

The woman had suffered several cuts to the front, back and sides of her neck, as well as other defensive wounds and carpet burns. A medical examiner told detectives she "put up a significant struggle" before her death, reports KUTV.

Anthony McClanahan's story about an attack on the couple and their "baby" quickly unraveled, court documents indicate. Investigators found no evidence on surveillance cameras of anyone else going into the condo or any baby at their place in the Park Regency. Detectives added that there were no open doors to the building and no signs of forced entry into the unit where Keri McClanahan was found dead, KUTV reports.

The murder weapon, found inside the condo, was a small, sharp knife she'd worn sheathed in a nylon paracord bracelet, charging documents state. Her sister Heather Gauf told police she had gotten the bracelet about a year ago, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, partially because she had an interest in knives, but also to protect herself.

Gauf told media outlets there had been a history of domestic violence in the relationship.

McClanahan had been charged with child kidnapping last month after authorities said he took his 8-year-old son from a previous relationship from his school in Arizona on Oct. 3 and traveled with him through Nevada and Utah.

He was arrested in Utah on Oct. 12 and gave his son back, then bonded out of jail a week later.

He and his wife rented the condo in Park City a few days later, charging documents said.

Originally from Bakersfield, California, McClanahan played four years with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League in the mid-1990s after a collegiate career at Washington State University. He was in training camp with the Dallas Cowboys of the NFL in 1994 but never played in a game.

Keri McClanahan, who went by KC, had been planning to leave her husband but wanted to help him get on his feet first, Gauf said.

The couple had met last year when he was working as a personal trainer in her hometown of Bellingham, Washington, and he pushed for a fast wedding, Gauf said.

"It worried me a lot,'" she said, but "he kind of had us fooled."

After the January 2017 wedding, they moved to Arizona together and began traveling to volunteer in hurricane affected areas.

But his jealousy began to emerge and in September he got frustrated about a missed donation and punched her, Gauf said. He'd sometimes refer to the effects of head injuries he'd suffered during his football career, though Gauf doubts they were the root cause of the violence.

After the punch, Keri McClanahan returned home to Washington, but her husband continued to contact her even as he left Arizona with his son.

Anthony McClanahan ended up in Utah because he has family there and wanted his son to be an extra in a Disney TV production, Gauf said.

Keri McClanahan eventually met him in Utah to help with his son, and stayed to help him get back on his feet after his arrest, Gauf said.

"She's such a sweetheart," said Gauf, who remembered her sister as an adventurous, athletic woman with a great sense of humor who leaves two children of her own.

"He definitely dimmed her light so much and it was really hard to watch," she said.

Anthony McClanahan was charged Monday with first-degree murder, which carries a possible sentence of life in prison. No attorney was listed for McClanahan in court records Monday, and a phone number for him went unanswered.