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Davis County honor student arrested in deaths of 2 younger brothers

WEST POINT — A 15-year-old honor student was booked into the Farmington Bay Youth Detention Center Thursday in connection with the deaths of his two younger brothers.

The victims, ages 4 and 10, suffered injuries "consistent with penetrating knife wounds," said Davis County Sheriff Todd Richardson. Two knives believed to have been used in the crimes were recovered from the West Point home.

The teen was arrested for investigation of two counts of murder.

The tragic incident was discovered Wednesday afternoon when the boys' mother came home, 120 S. 1660 West, from a dance recital with her three other children. She discovered the body of her 4-year-old and called 911, Richardson said.

At that time, she believed her 10-year-old son was also with her 15-year-old son. When police searched the house, however, they then found the body of the 10-year-old. Richardson said one victim was found downstairs in a "main area," and the other boy was upstairs in a "main area."

The teenage brother was immediately called a person of interest and multiple police agencies set out searching for him. He was found about 11:35 p.m. walking along a street in Layton. Richardson said he was in "good" condition, but he was taken to the hospital to be treated for minor injuries, which he said were "consistent with this kind of attack."

The teen, who had "trace evidence of blood" on him, was then questioned by detectives.

"He spoke pretty bluntly with our investigators," the sheriff said. "We believe the suspect acted alone."

Investigators said they believe they know the motive for the killings, but declined to elaborate. "As time goes on, I think it will be released as to why he did what he did," Richardson said.

Family members told police the boy has no apparent history of mental illness, according to Richardson. He also said the preliminary evidence indicates the killings were not premeditated.

The 15-year-old was reportedly left in charge of watching his younger brothers while his mother was away at the recital.

The teen was in the news briefly in 2011 when he ran away from home. After a large community search, he was found at a Wendy's restaurant about four miles from his house.

But Richardson said he was not the type of boy who had a past that would suggest he would do something like this.

Lindsey Caballero, who lives across the street, described the boy as shy. “This is just beyond my imagination of what could happen, but he was a very shy, kept-to-himself kind of kid," she said.

Ann Durrwachter, a neighbor who lives a couple of homes away from the family, said her son went to school with the teen.

"From what I understand, he's a model student, from what I've heard. I've never had any complaints about him or his family. I always figured him as model 15-year-old that every mom dreamed of having. He was just carefree almost. He just kind of did his own thing as most boys do," she said.

A Davis County School District spokesman confirmed the West Point Junior High School ninth-grader is an honor student. Chris Williams said the brothers had been home-schooled on and off. The 15-year-old has been attending the middle school since eighth grade.

The district met with teachers before school began Thursday in an emergency meeting and gave them ideas of what to tell the students in each classroom. At least 14 grief counselors were at the junior high school on Thursday, Williams said. The principal was also planning on sending an email to parents notifying them about what had happened.

"We let the students know there were some deaths of some school-aged children in our community, and that our hearts and thoughts go out to them and that family. And also talked to the students about avoiding the rumor-mill types of situations and let the investigators do their work to figure out what happened," said Principal Jed Johansen.

While some students sought out the grief counselors, Williams said that overall, not many students at the school seemed to have known the teen.

Grief counselors were also at Lakeside Elementary where the 10-year-old victim attended school as a fourth-grader. One of his other siblings, who was not injured, is a sixth-grader at Lakeside.

The father of the family is on active military duty and had been in Alabama. He was notified of the situation and was returning to Utah Thursday. Richardson said he was understandably "very devastated."

Deputies removed the yellow crime scene tape surrounding the house about 1 p.m. Thursday and the last police vehicle drove off, releasing the crime scene back to the family.

The incident left both Davis County sheriff's investigators and the quiet neighborhood in shock.

"West Point is just a quiet area. Not that many people even know it exists," said Durrwachter.

Many neighbors said they saw the victims frequently outside playing or riding bikes around the neighborhood. Durrwachter said the neighborhood is at its busiest when the school bus drops off the many neighborhood children in the afternoon.

"They were definitely a very positive family," she said. "Sweet, sweet family. Our kids played together. They walked up and down our streets, rode bikes."

She also had high praise for the boys' mother.

"They were happy, energetic kids. You must take a million cups of coffee just to keep up. She just took it all in stride. There was nothing that woman couldn't do with her kids. She is absolutely amazing," Durrwachter said.

A makeshift memorial was created in front of the victims' house Thursday, with people dropping off flowers, balloons and teddy bears.

Kyler Eggerman, 13, left a note for his friend, the 10-year-old victim.

"I just really felt bad because every morning he would say hi to me, and he really like me and I really liked him, and he was really nice and I just feel real bad that that happened," he said. "We rode the bus together and when we were in the hallways we'd say hi to each other, and he was just really excited when I was around him."

Durrwachter also left flowers on the sidewalk as a symbol of the boys for their grieving mother.

"I just figured there's not much really we can do. Something bad happens, they make you a casserole or they send you a gift card or something. I think the flowers we left them are a symbol of what they were when they were here and that I hope that she will remember that and keep it in her," she said. "I just want her to know we love her kids as much as I love mine. And I wish there was more we could do."

Richardson said the case is also difficult for his deputies, and something they will have a hard time not taking home with them.

"This is very taxing on our deputies. Most of our deputies are seasoned officers as well as paramedics, but when you have things like this happen, it taxes them on both ends. You've seen a lot of things, but it's really hard to go in there and come out with a smile on your face," he said.

Contributing: McKenzie Romero


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