ENOCH, Utah –
A 42-year-old man killed seven family members, including five children, then killed himself two weeks after the suspect’s wife had filed for divorce, according to authorities and public records.
Officials in the city of Enoch said Michael Haight, 42, killed his wife, mother-in-law and the couple’s five children. Each of the victims appeared to have gunshot wounds, officials said.
Court records show the wife had filed for divorce on Dec. 21.
Police sent officers to check on the family Wednesday after family and friends contacted officials because they were worried and had not heard from the victims. Officers found the victims inside the home.
The children ranged in age from 4 to 17 and included three girls and two boys, authorities said. The other victims were Tausha Haight, 40, and her 78-year-old mother, Gail Earl.
“At this time, we do not believe there is a threat to the public or that there are any suspects at large,” officials said in a press release.
Enoch is a small town of about 8,000 people located 245 miles (394 kilometres) south of Salt Lake City and about equally distant from Las Vegas.
The home where the victims were found was decorated with Christmas lights and located in a neighbourhood of newly built single-family houses on a ridge overlooking the farming community of Enoch. It has a view of houses with snow-covered roofs and mountains in the distance. Half of the surrounding block was cordoned off by police tape.
Enoch is on the outskirts of Cedar City — one of the fastest growing cities in Utah, which is one of the U.S.’s fastest growing states. Cattle and sheep line the highway that runs through the town, along with signs for “Custom New Homes” and advertising nearby recreational activities that southern Utah’s red rock-rich parks are known for.
Enoch City Manager Rob Dotson said the community was sent reeling by news of the eight bodies and that the deceased — all members of one family — were well-known in the town.
In most of Utah, the predominant religion is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, known widely as the Mormon church.
“Many of us have served with them in church, in the community and gone to school with these individuals,” Dotson said Wednesday night. “This community at this time is hurting. They’re feeling loss, they’re feeling pain and they have a lot of questions.”
“We all can pray that their families and the neighbours and all will come to an understanding of what happened in this place, probably in a day or two, or maybe longer,” he said.
The five children attended schools in the Iron County School District, officials said in a letter sent to parents.
Enoch, off Interstate 15 in rural Utah, just north of the city of Cedar City and about 80 miles (128 kilometres) west of Bryce Canyon National Park, had major flooding in 2021 that damaged hundreds of homes.