SALT LAKE CITY — Something seemed to be off with Ethan Hunsaker.
His co-workers noticed the change around the same time he and the mother of his young daughter broke up last year.
Typically a “goofball” and a good worker in his job at a concrete company, Hunsaker appeared sad and withdrawn amid his separation, said Jake Neal, a manager at Staker Parson’s Beck Street operation. Neal said Hunsaker began coming to work late and sometimes not at all.
“He wasn’t the same person,” Neal said.
Within a few months, Hunsaker lost his job after some type of altercation with a female co-worker. Around the same time, he made “dark” comments and his co-workers reported he’d talked about harming women, Neal said, declining to elaborate. Neal emphasized he was speaking on his own behalf and not that of his employer.
“That honestly doesn’t surprise me,” he said of the allegations his former co-worker now faces.
Hunsaker, 24, is accused of killing a Layton woman Sunday after they matched on Tinder, met up for a date and returned to his home, 1319 N. Reid Ave., in Layton. He told detectives he began choking Ashlyn Black, 25, when he awoke to find her laying on his arm, then stabbed her between five and 10 times, according to a police affidavit.
Hunsaker appeared briefly over a video feed in Farmington’s 2nd District Court Friday to answer a charge of murder, a first-degree felony. Authorities have not yet specified any motive.
Judge John Morris appointed him a public defender and ordered he be held without bail in the Davis County Jail.
In an obituary, Black’s family recalled her love of vintage clothing shops, the band Nirvana and hiking. She spoke up for others, had an infectious laugh and cared for special needs children, planning to have kids someday and adopt a child with Down syndrome.
“She would have been a wonderful mother,” her obituary reads.
Black worked for a time at Avenues Proper in Salt Lake City. The restaurant recalled her as kind and welcoming, with a knack for making new employees feel at home.
“We are devastated,” the restaurant wrote in an Instagram post.
Hunsaker had separated from his partner last year “because of trials Ethan could not overcome,” states an online fundraising page for his young daughter and her mom. Even with a broken heart, the page says, the woman tried to get him help “despite the hurt he had caused their small family.”
Neal said that after he began working at the concrete and asphalt company a few years ago, his outgoing personality landed him a job catering to customers in the company’s landscaping office.
“He was kind of the goofy young kid that always made us laugh, I guess, that always had something stupid to say,” Neal said. “Then end of last year, it was just weird. He went from goofy to just nobody wanted to be around him, you know? Very melancholy, I guess.”
Hunsaker is next due in court June 6.