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Box Elder County aids investigation in Idaho triple homicide

Published April 6, 2013 9:54 pm

Crime • Toddler and a baby in dead mother's arms survive; police find marijuana and dogs.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Names found in records associated with a dogfighting ring and marijuana growing operation at an eastern Idaho residence where two men and a woman were shot and killed are providing leads, an eastern Idaho sheriff says.

"We believe that they knew who the killer was," said Oneida County Sheriff Jeff Semrad on Sunday. "There's no evidence there was a robbery."

The bodies of 61-year-old Brent L. Christensen, 32-year-old Trent Jon Christensen and 27-year-old Yavette Chivon Carter were discovered Friday outside Holbrook, a town of about 400 people just north of the Idaho-Utah state line.

Brent Christensen is Trent Christensen's father, and Carter is Trent Christensen's girlfriend. The sheriff said the couple had a 2-year-old and an infant, who were found unharmed, the infant under the arm of Carter. The children have been turned over to one of the grandmothers.

Semrad said cash and 38 marijuana plants valued at $95,000 were in the house, which was still being examined for evidence Sunday. He also said 64 pit bulls at the property were used for fighting, and that some were being boarded by Brent Christensen for other people. He said the names police have come across are not local but are from other parts of southern Idaho and northern Utah.

"One of the problems we're having is those people don't want to come and get their dogs because of what was going on," Semrad said. "We talked to a couple people but no one wants to admit that's what was going on."

He said the agency is working with the Idaho Humane Society to remove the dogs.

"A lot of these dogs have been fighting, so they're not going to make real good house pets," the sheriff said.

A dogfighting case in 2007 in Oneida County led Idaho lawmakers in 2008 to make dogfighting a felony. Semrad said the Christensens weren't involved in that previous dogfighting case.

He said one of his officers is a relative of the victims who stopped at the house sometime last year, but found nothing illegal going on at that time.

"We've been out there a couple times just to talk to them," Semrad said. "They pretty much kept to themselves. We didn't have any complaints."

Semrad said that Brent Christensen appears to have made a living through dogfighting and growing marijuana, but he also worked odd jobs occasionally on local farms so some neighbors in the rural area knew him.

"This is a big shock to our community," Semrad said, noting it was the first triple killing in the county's history. "The last homicide we had was in 2000. We've gone 13 years. This just isn't something that happens here, out in the Holbrook area. It's tightknit. They're hardworking people. I've talked to several of them. They're shocked that this could happen in their community."

He said autopsies were performed Saturday but he declined to release details. He also declined to release information about what type of weapon might have been used in the killings or the types of injuries received.