Utah woman considered leaving husband before murder-suicide
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah woman was considering leaving her husband before he fatally shot her, their two children and himself on Father’s Day, according to police documents released Monday.
A relative who called police after discovering the body of 6-year-old Tylee Smith was immediately concerned that the girl’s father, 29-year-old Russell Smith, might have been involved, according to a search warrant affidavit.
The relative told police dispatchers she was concerned that Russell Smith had been drinking and had a gun at the house in Roy, about 30 miles north of Salt Lake City, according to the documents.
Police found the unclothed body of 26-year-old Shawna Smith in the bathroom. Russell Smith was found in the bedroom of their 2-year-old son Blake Smith, who was dead in his crib. All four people were shot in the head, police wrote.
Shawna Smith’s mother, Sheila Pruitt, said her daughter was considering a separation to allow her husband to deal with problems at the time of their deaths.
“She wasn’t talking about a divorce. She just needed him to have some space,” she said Monday. Though she didn’t know the details of their marital problems, she said the issues appeared normal.
The bodies were discovered after Shawna Smith stopped responded to text messages on June 21, police said.
Russell Smith had recently quit his job with defense contractor L-3 Communications, and he was excited about starting a new job, Pruitt said.
Police hadn’t responded to any previous problems at the home, and officers are investigating what led up to the shootings, said Roy police spokesman Matthew Gwynn on Monday. “We’re just as stunned as the community,” Gwynn said.
The investigation remains open as officers wait for the results of toxicology tests, he said.
When the family was found, neighbors on their quiet, suburban street in Roy, a city of about 38,000, said they were shocked at the deaths because the family always appeared happy.
Shawna Smith had worked at Busy Bee’s Playhouse, a child-care facility in Roy, for nearly nine years. Neighbors described Russell Smith as a sweet man and doting father who loved the Atlanta Braves and umpired kids baseball games for a local league.
The couple had met shortly before Shawna Smith graduated from high school. They were friends before the relationship turned romantic, and they wed six years ago, Pruitt said.
Russell Smith’s parents have said they were stunned by the deaths because their son loved his family and life.
Exactly what led up to the family’s deaths may never been fully explained, Pruitt said.
“I don’t know that we’ll ever know why. They took that with them,” she said.