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Two who were killed by carbon monoxide in Utah identified as step-brothers

Published May 12, 2014 7:00 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Richfield police on Saturday identified the two killed by carbon monoxide poisoning as step-brothers Joey Julander Tong, 17, and Tyler Utley, 21.

They died at their Richfield home Friday, and two of their friends, Kennedee Starr, 14, of Annabella, and Vannesa Batistic, 19, of Elsinore, were sent to the hospital.

The step-brothers' bodies were discovered by their father when he came home from work about 7:20 p.m. The young men's friends, Starr and Batistic, were also found in the home in a "lethargic" condition.

Richfield Police Department Chief John Evans said Saturday that Batistic remains in Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in serious condition. Starr was released Saturday from Sevier Valley Hospital.

One of the victims told investigators the power to the house had been shut off on Wednesday; Evans added that was due to "non-payment."

Since Wednesday, the four had been using a small generator for power. The generator was inside the house and the occupants opened at least some of the windows when it was running, according to police.

The family had been struggling financially; Utley and Julander Tong's father was pulling 12-hour shifts "trying to catch up on things," said Kevin Kitchen, the family's Mormon bishop.

The church is trying to establish a fund to help the family with the funeral costs, and hope to have it set up by Monday. In the meantime, relatives and the community have been rallying around a family who already lost another member — Utley's grandmother — a few weeks ago, Kitchen said.

pmanson@sltrib.com

Twitter: PamelaMansonSLC