Mapleton cops find family of 4, and dog, dead in suspected murder-suicide

(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) Home at 1502 N. SR 89 in Mapleton is blocked off by police tape where a family of four was found shot to death. Police are investigating it as a suspected case of murder-suicide.

Mapleton • A Utah County family of four was found shot to death and police are investigating it as a suspected case of murder-suicide.

Mapleton Police Chief John Jackson said Friday that the bodies of 45-year-old Timothy Griffith, 42-year-old Jessica Griffith, 16-year-old Samantha Badel and 5-year-old Alexendre Griffith were discovered by officers conducting a welfare check at the family’s home at about 1500 North on U.S. 89, at about 9:40 p.m. Thursday.

After failing to get a response from anyone inside at the front door, and after exhausting all efforts to contact local family or friends, officers removed a window and entered the home, Jackson stated.

“Once inside officers found four individuals that were deceased from what appears to [have been] gunshot wounds,” Jackson stated. “Also found deceased with a gunshot wound was a large dog.”

Badel is Jessica Griffith’s biological daughter and a stepdaughter to Timothy Griffith, police said, and Alexendre is the biological son of both adults. The family moved to Mapleton from Switzerland this past summer, at about the time Timothy Griffith was hired locally in July, police said.

Nebo School District spokeswoman Lana Hiskey confirmed that Badel had “just enrolled as a sophomore” at Maple Mountain High School this fall.

Hiskey said grief counselors were made available Friday to any students or staff in need of them, adding that as of Friday morning a number of faculty members had visited with the counselors. Students’ parents also had been notified.

“Preliminary evidence suggests a murder suicide,” Jackson said in the news release. “However that ruling will not be made until the medical examiner’s office has completed their examination and officers have had a chance to follow up on information collected at the scene.”

All four bodies had been taken to state medical examiner’s office on Friday, police said. Officers hope the examinations “will be able to shed more light on what is believed to have transpired in the home.” Police added that the exams would likely not be completed until next week.

Police, having obtained a search warrant, returned to the residence Friday morning to further investigate further.

Earlier, neighbors had called police to report they were concerned that the lights had not been on in the home for several days, the family’s vehicle had not been moved and the family had not been seen for days, police said.

An unidentified local employer also reported that a person who resides at this residence had failed to show up to work for consecutive days, the news release said.

The family’s home is situated along a busy stretch of highway, among other homes decorated eclectically with old farming tools and other repurposed knickknacks.

From the road, one can spot a wooden play set and a plastic, igloo-shaped dog house in the family’s backyard. An American flag hung on a second-floor railing in front of the home.

A neighbor, who knew the family because Jessica Griffith wanted to breed her goats with the neighbor’s male goat, said the family had moved into the home that summer. The neighbor spoke to The Tribune, but didn’t want to be identified because the neighbor’s knowledge of the family did not extend beyond a mutual interest in animal husbandry.

Jessica Griffith, who the neighbor said is from Europe, had eaten goat where she came from and wanted to have some at her new home.

The neighbor said the couple had met while Timothy Griffith was overseas. The neighbor had never met Badel, but had seen Alexendre. The neighbor described the boy as very small, about knee-high.

Free, confidential resources are available for victims of domestic violence through the Utah Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-897-LINK (5465). More information can be found at udvc.org.

Anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts is asked to call the 24-Hour National Suicide Prevention Hotline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Utah also has crisis lines statewide.