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8 useless 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, based on authorities and public information.

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 attainable 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 mentioned.

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 houses on massive heaps are made up primarily of enormous households that belong, like most in Utah, to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, broadly generally 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 industrial 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 kids, metropolis officers mentioned.

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

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

Group members gathered Thursday night to mourn and sing hymns in a non-public vigil at a church up the road from the house the place the victims had been discovered the day prior to this.

Officers mentioned they consider 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 women and two boys ranged in age from 4 to 17 and included 7-year-old twins, authorities mentioned. Tausha Haight’s mom, 78-year-old Gail Earl, was mentioned to have been staying together with her household to assist throughout a troublesome time.

Courtroom information present that Tausha Haight filed for divorce Dec. 21. Her lawyer mentioned 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 evening earlier than the killings at a church group for younger ladies, Chesnut mentioned. 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 mentioned.

Household mass killings have turn out to be a disturbingly frequent tragedy throughout the nation. In 2022 there have been 17 of them, based on 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 folks slain, not together with the assailant.

Eight members of the family, 5 of them youngsters, had been discovered useless from gunshot wounds in a southern Utah dwelling, based on authorities. (ENOCH CITY through CNN)

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

The White Home mentioned in a press release that President Joe Biden and first woman Jill Biden had been mourning with the Enoch group. It referred to as for additional steps to cut back gun violence, now the main reason for 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 remodeled 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 mentioned 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 group,” she mentioned. “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 photos of the household wanting blissful 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 Schooling, posted a photograph on Fb of Tausha and her youngsters and wrote concerning 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 mentioned it was wrenching to have to inform their very own youngsters that their friends might not be at college the following day.

“We advised them final evening,” mentioned metropolis councilman Richard Jensen, a father of eight. “We gathered them round for a household prayer sort of factor. We advised them a household on the town, everybody had been killed and after they present as much as college tomorrow it is attainable children can 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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