Violent assault ruled out in death of Utah family

Martin Griffith
Associated Press

Springville, Utah — A preliminary autopsy has ruled out a violent assault as the cause of death of five Utah family members, including three children, found in the parents’ bedroom over the weekend, authorities said.

The examination found no evidence of gunshot wounds, stabbing or other visible injuries, investigators said Sunday.

The causes of death will not be known until an analysis of blood samples is concluded, police Lt. Dave Caron said. The medical examiner’s office provided no time frame for the release of those results.

Asked if foul play has been ruled out, Caron said, “I don’t rule out anything. … We haven’t ruled out anything except there was no violent trauma. We’re going to look at everything.”

He added, however, that he had been inside the house and seen no signs of a struggle,

The bodies were found Saturday night in Springville, about 45 miles south of Salt Lake City. They were identified as Benjamin Strack, 37, his wife, Kristi, 36, and three of their children, Benson, 14, Emery, 12, and Zion, 11.

A test of air in the house by firefighters did not find any carbon monoxide, but investigators have not ruled that out as a possible cause of death.

The front door of the house was open and the back door was cracked open before firefighters arrived, Caron said, and gas could have dissipated before the test.

The bodies were found by an older son, who went to the duplex after he did not hear from the family as expected. His name was not released.

Caron said someone either saw or talked to the family earlier in the day, but he was unsure about the last person to make contact with them.

Benjamin Strack worked off-and-on for years at the bricklaying company AK Masonry, according to owner Alex Short.

“We hadn’t seen him for the last two weeks,” Short said.

The duplex is located on a road to a high school in the city of 30,000 people south of Provo.

“It’s one of those things we’re going to take it one step at a time,” he said, adding the next step is to await the analysis of blood samples.

The duplex where the family lived is located on a road leading to a high school in the city of 30,000 located just south of Provo.