Murder-suicide claims mom, 2 daughters in Syracuse
Syracuse • Cops say motive of shooter, who just broke up with fiance, unclear.
Published: January 15, 2014 09:25PM
Updated: January 15, 2014 10:10PM
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Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune Syracuse Police officers investigate the scene where three people died in a shooting in Syracuse at 2133 W. 1175 South, Tuesday, January 14, 2014.

Syracuse • Police on Wednesday said the gunshot deaths of a mother and her two daughters appeared to be a case of murder-suicide.

Authorities believe the mother shot her daughters and then herself just prior to 7 p.m. Tuesday — just a day after breaking up with her fiance.

Syracuse police Officer Erin Behm identified the victims as 32-year-old Kyler Ann Ramsdell-Oliva, 13-year-old Kenadee Oliva, and 7-year-old Isabella Oliva.

The official cause of death awaits results of the autopsy and forensic testing.

“All three females suffered gunshot wounds. The bodies have been taken to the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Salt Lake City for autopsy,” Behm said.

Police detectives, assisted by Davis County Sheriff’s Department investigators, worked through Tuesday night at the home, 2133 W. 1175 South.

By Wednesday morning, the neighborhood was quiet except for two fighter jets from nearby Hill Air Force Base, circling overhead for drills. The home was still surrounded by police tape, and in the front yard a toppled lamp post lay mostly covered in snow.

Craig Hawkins, whose backyard abuts the home where the shooting happened, said he didn’t know the family well because they hadn’t live there long. Hawkins said he meant to go over to see the family after they moved into the neighborhood, but never got around to it.

“I wish we had,” he said.

Chin Su Kim, who lives across the street, also didn’t know the family but saw two men there Tuesday night moving things in and out of the home.

Behm said Syracuse officers had been at the home Monday evening to supervise an exchange of property between Ramsdell-Oliva and her ex-fiance, who was moving out. The man was questioned, along with other family members and friends, but had been cleared of any involvement in the slayings.

Police found the bodies after they responded to a 911 call reporting shots fired. The former fiance — apparently having arrived to finish moving remaining items from the home — was found outside, reportedly in shock over the tragic turn of events.

Witnesses said he was distraught, talking to himself and asking, “Why [did she] do that?”

Behm said the ex-fiance, Ramsdell-Oliva and girls had moved into the home within the last three months. Friend Mike Kirby said the family moved to Utah from southern California, where Ramsdell-Olivia had gotten “a great job” with a software company about 18 months ago. She moved there from Utah — her parents also lived in California — and continued a long-distance relationship with her fiance, whom she’d been dating for about three years, Kirby said. Her job allowed her to work remotely, so she and the girls moved back to Utah.

Other than the Monday night call when the couple broke up, police had not had any reports of problems at the address.

On Kyler Ramsdell-Oliva’s Facebook page, a photo of the mother and her two girls smiles out at visitors. But her most recent posting, dated Jan. 9, is cryptic, seeming to indicate stress over relationship issues:

“There are always 2 sides to every story, the next time you judge someone else’s reality remember that you don’t see through their eyes and you don’t walk in their shoes. I hate people who feel its their right to come in the middle of a relationship and try to fix it or give their opinion. You aren’t in that relationship for a reason so don’t put yourself in between it. Focus on your own life and your own problems. — feeling annoyed,” she wrote.

She later added a comment reading:

“Sometimes I wish I weren’t right it would be much easier to just mindlessly go through life. I’d probably cause a lot less problems.”

Judy Bergen, a friend of Ramsdell-Oliva, could offer no additional insight into the slaying, saying it was completely out of character for a mom who seemed happy.

“This is like a big old slap in the face,” Bergen said. “There’s the feeling of, this can’t be.”

Kirby described the deaths as “shocking.”

“She was a really fun person; that’s what’s so confusing,” Kirby said. “She had such a bubbly, fun personality.”

Kirby said she occasionally went to his house with her fiance to watch football. There were no serious problems in Ramsdell-Olivia’s life, as far as he knew: he’d heard “great” things about her family in California and she was financially secure. She threw an ocean-themed birthday party for Isabella just last week, he said.

“Everybody looked happy and fine,” he said. “Then I started seeing posts on Facebook that they’re breaking up, and that was a shock. Then all of a sudden this happens?”

Bergen is a child care worker and began watching Kenadee more than a decade ago. Later, she watched Isabella, as well. She said Kenadee was “an awesome swimmer” and Isbella loved to dance and “sing her lungs out.” Bergen said she had not seen the family in recent months.

Grief counselors were dispatched Wednesday to the schools the girls had just begun attending, Davis School District spokesman Chris Williams confirmed.

“Both of these students had been in school here only a short time, having registered just on January 6, so not a lot of other students knew them,” he said.

Williams said that while Isabella Oliva had attended classes for a week at Syracuse Elementary School, her older sister, Kenadee Oliva, had attended only a single day at Syracuse Junior High School.

remims@sltrib.com

Twitter: @remims