Grantsville • Each fallen member of the Haynie family left an indelible impression in the Utah community where they lived.
Milan, 12, was the “fierce ninja” of the family: tough, feisty and into comic book superheroes. Matthew, 14, was both kind and competitive, a chess player who was always "six moves ahead of you.” Alexis, 17, an artist, had “a quiet confidence” whether she was saving goals on her high school soccer team or meticulously illustrating animal stories that her friends helped create.
And Alejandra, 52, was the definitive “mama bear," said family and friends who shared memories of the family at their funeral, one week after after their 16-year-old brother and son allegedly opened fire on them in their Grantsville home.
“If she was in the kitchen with Gordon Ramsey, she would be the one telling him what to do,” said Alejandra’s eldest son, Daniel, eliciting laughter from hundreds of mourners who attended the funeral at a Latter-day Saint stake center near the family’s home.
Colin Haynie, the father and husband of the family, looked over the four flower-covered caskets at the front of the church and recalled the wisdom his mother shared with him when he was a child attending a funeral.
“'The bodies that we see lying in the caskets are not the people that we knew.' I believe that,” Colin Haynie said. “What I see is Matthew, Milan and Alexis excitedly exploring the spirit world, where they are now. And they have their mother there with them.”
Missing from that image, and from the memorial, was Colin’s middle son, Colin Jeffrey “C.J.” Haynie. The 16-year-old allegedly confessed to shooting his family members, including his father, who wrested the gun away from the teen after he shot the rest of the family. C.J. Haynie has been charged with multiple counts of aggravated murder and attempting to kill his father, who was shot in one of his legs and suffered a severe cut to his head.
“If there’s anything I want him to know, it’s how much I love him,” said Daniel Haynie, who does not live at the family home and was the only member of the family not shot by his brother. “I want to be there for him. He’s part of our family, and we all want the best for him. Part of me feels like I lost him, too, but he’s still here. ... He’ll always be my brother.”
Craig C. Christensen, a general authority for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, said those grieving — as well as C.J. — could turn to God. “That healing power is there for him,” Christensen said.
Colin Haynie said he was grateful for the community’s support; he noted yellow ribbons tied in the family’s honor to poles along the route to the cemetery, and said the stories and recollections shared by friends and relatives have helped the family to cope.
Alejandra was remembered for her spectacular cooking and devotion to her family. “They were her life,” said family friend Bryce Jensen, who also recalled Milan’s strength, even as a small child at birthday parties.
"I had to make sure she was late in the lineup for the pinata,” Jensen said with a laugh, noting that the other children were thrilled to see the blindfold get passed to her. "They knew when Milan was up, they were going to get the candy.”
Alexis was an “amazing artist,” said her best friend Brecken Harrington. Her uncle, Nathan Haynie, said he still has a sculpture of Iron Man that Alexis made for him.
Matthew loved Star Wars, Danny said, and often recited his favorite line during games: “I have the higher ground.”
“One day when I see them again, we’ll be able to have our little rivalry again," Danny said. “You know, families are eternal, and that’s what’s going to keep us going.”
A viewing was held earlier in the day, followed by the burial at Grantsville Cemetery.