An entire family in a small Utah town was found dead in their home Wednesday in a horrific apparent murder-suicide.
Officials in the small town of Enoch, Utah, said that the husband shot his wife, mother-in-law, and the couple’s five children, before turning the gun on himself. The family was found late Wednesday afternoon after police went to conduct a welfare check on the wife. According to news reports, the wife had served divorce papers to the husband last week.
“Evidence suggests that the suspect took his own life after killing seven others in the home,” Enoch City Manager Rob Dotson told reporters at a press conference Thursday.
According to Dotson, the wife had an appointment, which she missed. The person with whom she had the appointment called police to do a welfare check. “A few hours after that welfare check, a call came in and Tausha (the wife) was not located, a missing persons report was requested and was received by the Cedar City Police Department,” Dotson said. That report was then passed on to police in Enoch, “at which point the welfare check to locate Tausha became an effort to locate the entire family,” Dotson added.
City officials said no one had heard reports of gunshots or suspicious activity, but Enoch Mayor Geoffrey Chesnut, who was neighbors with the family, noted that the homes are on large lots, making it difficult to hear anything. “They’re half-acre lots, big homes on half-acre lots,” he said. “You don’t hear a lot coming from your neighbor’s homes.”
Investigators worked through Wednesday night and into Thursday morning. The bodies of the family were removed later on Thursday morning. City officials said more information would be made available as evidence was collected from the scene, witnesses were interviewed, and autopsies were conducted on the victims.
Court records obtained by Deseret News show that the wife filed for divorce on December 21. The court issued a domestic relations injunction against both husband and wife, prohibiting them from intimidating or harassing each other by any means, including electronic communications, and also prohibiting abuse against any of the children.
Enoch Police Chief Jackson Ames said the town’s police department was “familiar with the family,” and that they had investigated the family a few years prior, though he did not elaborate on details of the investigation.
Chesnut said that the community was rattled by the news. “[The family] were my neighbors, the youngest children played in my yard with my sons,” he said through tears at the press conference. “Enoch city is a very close community… The neighbors are good, the people are wonderful and the efforts we make on one another’s behalf is like family. … This is a tremendous blow to many, many families who have spent many, many nights with these individuals who are now gone.”
“Many of us have served with them in church, in the community, and gone to school with these individuals,” Dotson said Wednesday night, via Deseret News. “This community at this time is hurting. They’re feeling loss, they’re feeling pain, and they have a lot of questions.”
“We all can pray that their families and the neighbors and all will come to an understanding of what happened in this place, probably in a day or two, or maybe longer,” he added.