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Utah Father Suspected in Murder-Suicide That Left Eight Members of Family Dead

Authorities outside of the home in Enoch, Utah where 5 children and 3 adults were shot dead. (KABC-TV screen shot)

Authorities outside of the home in Enoch, Utah where 5 children and 3 adults were shot dead. (KABC-TV screen shot)

Eight family members, including five children, were found shot to death inside of a rural Utah home on Wednesday, city officials announced. The father of the home, Michael Haight, 42, is believed to be the killer who later died by suicide.

On Thursday, a statement issued by the City of Enoch identified the victims as the suspect’s wife, Tausha Haight, 40, Tausha Height’s mother, Gail Earl, 78, and the couple’s five children: a 4-year-old boy, a 7-year-old boy, a 7-year-old girl, a 12-year-old girl, and a 17-year-old girl.

“Investigators currently believe there are no suspects outstanding,” the city said in the statement. “Evidence suggests that the suspect took his own life after killing seven others in the home.”

The Daily Mail reports that the suspect was a Mormon insurance agent who killed his wife, mother-in-law, kids, and himself after his spouse filed for divorce.

According to an earlier press release from the city, officers with the local police department on Jan. 4 responded to a call requesting a welfare check at a home located in the 4900 North block of Albert Drive. Enoch is a small town with approximately 7,500 residents located about 350 miles southwest of Salt Lake City.

“Officers checked the residence and found three adults and five minors deceased inside the home,” the release states. “Each appeared to have sustained gunshot wounds.”

It is not clear why a welfare check was requested at the address and officials did not provide any additional details regarding the incident or a possible motive for the shootings. However, authorities said that they did not believe there was any ongoing threat to the public or that there were “any suspects at large.”

Enoch City Manager Rob Dotson released a video statement saying that the family was well-known in the community, which was devastated by the news of their violent deaths.

“We all know this family. Many of us have served with them in church, in the community, and gone to school with these individuals, and so this community, at this time, is hurting. They’re feeling loss, they’re feeling pain – they have a lot of questions,” Dotson said. “We won’t know the mindsets, the thoughts of the individuals who experienced this tragedy, but 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.”

The names, ages, and nature of the relationships between the victims have not been disclosed.

The Iron County School District (ICSD), where all five of the deceased children were enrolled, released a letter to parents calling the incident a “tragic loss” that was “sure to raise many emotions, concerns, and questions” for students and parents alike.

“We are saddened by the loss to our school community and will make every effort to help you and your child as needed,” the letter stated.

State government officials offered their condolences via social media.

“Our hearts go out to all those affected by this senseless violence,” Utah Governor Spencer Cox wrote on Twitter. “Please keep the community of Enoch in your prayers.”

Utah Lieutenant Governor Deidre M. Henderson similarly tweeted, “What a tragedy. I’m praying for the community of Enoch tonight.”

Richard Jensen, a member of the Enoch City Council, told The New York Times that one of the deceased family members was “a respected community member and church leader,” adding that the tragic incident was “sending shock waves” throughout Enoch.

Colin Kalmbacher contributed to this report.

[image via KABC-TV]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.