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8 lifeless in Utah murder-suicide after spouse sought divorce

ENOCH, Utah (AP) — A Utah man fatally shot his 5 youngsters, his mother-in-law and his spouse after which killed himself two weeks after the lady had filed for divorce, in accordance with authorities and public data.

Police additionally revealed throughout a Thursday information convention that officers investigated the 42-year-old man and his household a “couple of years prior,” suggesting doable earlier issues contained in the family. Enoch Police Chief Jackson Ames didn’t elaborate.

Investigators had been conscious of the divorce petition however did not know if it was the motivation behind the killings, Main Geoffrey Chesnut stated.

The killings rocked the small city of Enoch in southern Utah about midway between Salt Lake Metropolis and Las Vegas. It is in one of many fastest-growing areas of the nation, and communities of latest properties on massive heaps are made up primarily of huge households that belong, like most in Utah, to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, broadly often known as the Mormon church. Many residents work and do enterprise in close by Cedar Metropolis, a metropolis of about 35,000 that serves as a business hub for Enoch, which does not have its personal downtown.

The deceased had been members of the religion and well-known on the town. Many residents served in church alongside members of the slain household or went to highschool with the youngsters, metropolis officers stated.

“This can be a large blow to many households who’ve spent many nights with these people who at the moment are gone,” Chesnut stated.

Metropolis Supervisor Rob Dotson stated persons are “feeling loss, they’re feeling ache and so they have plenty of questions.”

Group members gathered Thursday night to mourn and sing hymns in a personal vigil at a church up the road from the house the place the victims had been discovered yesterday.

Officers stated they imagine Michael Haight killed his spouse, 40-year-old Tausha Haight; his mother-in-law of him; and the couple’s 5 youngsters. Every appeared to have gunshot wounds.

The three ladies and two boys ranged in age from 4 to 17 and included 7-year-old twins, authorities stated. Tausha Haight’s mom, 78-year-old Gail Earl, was stated to have been staying along with her household to assist throughout a troublesome time.

Courtroom data present that Tausha Haight filed for divorce Dec. 21. Her lawyer stated Thursday that Haight had been served with the papers Dec. 27. The explanations for the divorce had been unknown, partly as a result of Utah regulation retains particulars of divorce proceedings sealed from the general public.

Tausha Haight and different family members had been seen the night time earlier than the killings at a church group for younger girls, Chesnut stated. Police had been dispatched to the household’s dwelling Wednesday afternoon for a welfare test after somebody reported that she had missed an appointment earlier within the week, metropolis officers stated.

Household mass killings have grow to be a disturbingly frequent tragedy throughout the nation. In 2022 there have been 17 of them, in accordance with a database compiled by USA As we speak, The Related Press and Northeastern College. Ten had been murder-suicides, and 14 had been shootings. The database defines a mass killing as 4 or extra individuals slain, not together with the assailant.

Eight relations, 5 of them youngsters, had been discovered lifeless from gunshot wounds in a southern Utah dwelling, in accordance with authorities. (ENOCH CITY through CNN)

James Park, who represented Tausha Haight within the divorce case, stated she had not expressed any worry that her husband would bodily damage her. Park declined to elaborate, citing the investigation into the killings. He stated he met with Tausha Haight solely twice, most not too long ago on Tuesday, and he or she “was an extremely good girl.”

The White Home stated in a press release that President Joe Biden and first girl Jill Biden had been mourning with the Enoch neighborhood. It referred to as for additional steps to scale back gun violence, now the main reason behind loss of life for youngsters within the US

The house the place the victims had been discovered was embellished with Christmas lights and situated in a neighborhood of newly constructed single-family homes on a ridge overlooking Enoch. It has a view of homes with snow-covered roofs and mountains within the distance. Half the encircling block was cordoned off by police tape.

The Cedar Metropolis space, traditionally agricultural, is being reworked by new subdivisions. Cattle and sheep line the freeway on the fringe of city, together with indicators that publicize “Customized New Properties” and recreation in southern Utah’s well-known nationwide parks.

Sharon Huntsman of Cedar Metropolis got here to the neighborhood with a bouquet of white flowers Thursday morning. She stated the deaths had deeply rattled Iron County and cried as she propped up the bouquet within the snow at a makeshift memorial the place neighbors left stuffed animals and flowers.

“It is only one massive neighborhood,” she stated. “All of us have one heavenly father.”

Archives from a neighborhood newspaper seize moments in Michael Haight’s life starting with an image of him laughing as a child in an announcement marking his first birthday. He was within the Boy Scouts and went on a church mission in Brazil.

In 2003, Haight married Tausha Earl at a church temple. She was from Overton, Nevada, about two hours south of Cedar Metropolis, the place he grew up. As an grownup, Haight labored as an insurance coverage agent.

Tausha Haight’s Fb web page confirmed footage of the household trying completely satisfied in picturesque settings of Utah, and in entrance of a big statue of Jesus.

Jennie Earl, who’s Tausha’s sister-in-law and a member of the Utah State Board of Training, posted a photograph on Fb of Tausha and her youngsters and wrote in regards to the “stiff competitors” to be their favourite aunt.

“I pray that Christ’s love will mend our damaged hearts and fill us with forgiveness and peace,” Earl wrote. She declined to remark when reached by The Related Press.

Group members who gathered at Enoch Metropolis Corridor to hearken to Thursday’s information convention stated it was wrenching to have to inform their very own youngsters that their friends might not be in school the following day.

“We informed them final night time,” stated metropolis councilman Richard Jensen, a father of eight. “We gathered them round for a household prayer sort of factor. We informed them a household on the town, everybody had been killed and once they present as much as faculty tomorrow it is doable youngsters will probably be lacking.”

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Related Press information researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York and reporter Colleen Slevin in Denver contributed to this report.

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