A 51-year-old woman who had been hospitalized since early April after five people allegedly broke into her Duchesne County home and attacked her and her husband died Sunday, prompting upgraded charges for the alleged assailants.
Because of Sherry Lynn Melo’s death, prosecutors in Utah’s 8th District Court on Tuesday amended charges for the five people — Thomas Neil Tuinman, 35, Stephanie Tuinman, 33, Michael Wallace Tuinman, 30, Samantha Tuinman, 30, and Byron Rashad Thompson, 29 — accused in the assault.
Their charges were increased from a first-degree felony charge of aggravated attempted murder to first-degree felony aggravated murder, according to a press release from the county sheriff’s department.
The suspects were also charged with aggravated burglary and aggravated assault, both first-degree felonies.
Thomas Tuinman, who is married to Samantha Tuinman, is Stephanie Tuinman’s brother. Michael Tuinman is Thomas and Stephanie Tuinman’s cousin, and Thompson is dating Stephanie Tuinman, according to the release.
The five met at Melo’s house, about 2725 West and 2500 South in the Vonsville area near Roosevelt, on April 6. They reportedly broke through the home’s glass storm door, made their way inside and chased the couple outside, where they attacked them, police said.
Melo, who police found sitting on a neighbor’s porch, bleeding from her head, nose and mouth and screaming in pain, and her husband both told police that night that the five beat them. Melo said one of the woman hit her in the head with a bat.
Medics later determined Melo “had bleeding on her brain.”
The husband, who court records identify as Rick Hoke, was bleeding from his head, nose and mouth, had a gash on his knee and cuts and bruises on his back “from his neck to his buttocks,” according to the release.
Melo identified Thomas Tuinman, Samanatha Tuinman and Mike Tuinman as her attackers, but couldn’t name another man and woman allegedly involved.
When investigators interviewed Thomas Neil Tuinman, Stephanie Tuinman, Samantha Tuinman and Thompson, police learned the four had traveled to Melo’s house that night, and met Mike Tuinman there.
Investigators haven’t yet released a motive in the attack, citing the ongoing investigation.
The five suspects were booked into Duchesne County jail on April 7. A judge on Thursday set each person’s bail at $50,000, cash-only.
A scheduling conference for the case is set for May 14, according to court records.