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Police identify boys found dead in South Jordan

Published November 17, 2013 12:53 pm

Officer: "We don't know right now" what happened in house.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

South Jordan • Police here on Saturday found three handguns at the scene where two boys died a day earlier, but few details have been disclosed about what happened in the home.

Police identified the boys as Taylor Wheeler, 12, and Dayton Gessell, 15.

Investigators from the state medical examiner's office removed the bodies of the boys about 11 a.m. A South Jordan police press release said the boys did not live in the home at 4781 W. Pine Canyon Lane in the Daybreak neighborhood and were not related.

South Jordan Police Department detectives secured search warrants overnight and investigated with the help of forensic units from West Jordan. Autopsies are expected to begin Sunday morning.

Although police said Friday that they did not believe any suspects were still at large, three "potential witnesses," all juvenile males, were taken to the station Friday night. All three were later released.

South Jordan Sgt. Sam Winkler said the boys all knew each other and attended the same school. As of Saturday night, the investigators had not had a chance to interview all three boys and are proceeding carefully for the sake of the boys' mental health, Winkler said.

About 4:30 p.m. Friday, an off-duty West Valley police officer was driving home from work when one of the boys ran out of the house and flagged him down, Winkler said. The boy running from the house reported the sound of gunshots.

The officer found the boys in the basement and called South Jordan police. Investigators have not yet determined whom the guns belong to, Winkler said.

A public records database search indicated the house was occupied by Traci Hanson. John Anderson, attorney for the Hanson family, said neither of the boys belongs to the family. Anderson declined to discuss details of what occurred in the house.

The Hansons "are beside themselves," Anderson said.

While the Hansons are trying to process the event and are not sure how to feel, "they are so sorry" for the families of the two boys, Anderson said.

A neighbor told The Tribune that police have visited the house repeatedly since a new family moved in a year and a half ago.

The Tribune will provide updates as they become available.

mpiper@sltrib.com

Twitter: @matthew_piper