clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:


Sam Kastanis' voice was calm and steady as he spoke to the 911 operator, explaining that he'd just found his 9-year-old son bleeding and unconscious.

He told the operator his son was "bleeding really severe" from his nose. "I just walked in the house, and he's laying in the bathroom right now. He's unconscious."A crowded 3rd Circuit Courtroom sat hushed as the Nov. 17 taped recording of the 911 call was played Monday afternoon during his preliminary hearing. Kastanis is charged with four counts of capital murder for the bludgeoning deaths of his wife and three children.

After leaving the operator to again check on the child, Kastanis, 44, returned to the phone with grisly details. "He's chopped his fingers off. I thought it was bleeding from his mouth, but his fingers, I can't get him. I can't get him to say anything. He won't say any-thing at all."

For several minutes, operator Shannon Warner instructed Kastanis on how to check the boy's condition and try to perform CPR. His voice still cool, Kastanis said he had no idea how his boy was injured.

"It looks like, hang on, let me look. It looks like the top of his head, too. He must have hit something. I can't understand what happened."

West Jordan police officer Mike Nunnelley said he entered the back door of the home about 10:50 that Sunday morning. "Hello . . . police," is heard in the background of the 911 call, and Kastanis replies, "Come on in. Back here. Back here."

Just 20 seconds later, the tape recorded Kastanis said, "Melissa? Melissa?" He then said, "I got some more downstairs, too. The same way. My wife and my children the same way."

Nunnelley said he went downstairs and discovered three more bodies in a bedroom lying in pools of blood. Kastanis was kneeling by his dead wife, Margaret, 39, and their two daughters, Melissa, 11, and Christine, 6. A hammer and knife were nearby.

Defense attorney Ron Yengich suggested that blood found on the knees and thighs of Kastanis' blue jeans could have come from when he knelt near his dead family members. But Nunnelley said he didn't believe there was blood in the area where Kastanis knelt.

Kastanis told officers he was outside in an unattached garage that morning drinking coffee and smoking a cigarette.

Prosecution witnesses are expected to testify that Kastanis must have been inside the house when the killings occurred because blood splatters apparently indicate he was in the immediate vicinity of a blunt instrument striking blood on at least three separate occasions.

Prosecutors say Kastanis' wife had expressed her desire to divorce him and he indicated he did not want custody of the children. The night before the slayings, his wife had signed the contract for the sale of their home.

Several members of Kastanis' family and his wife's family have attended the first two days of the hearing, most standing by him in the belief that he could not have killed his family.