Utah Man Kills Entire Family After Wife Files for Divorce

Officials in the rural town of Enoch said Michael Haight shot and killed his wife, five children, and mother-in-law, then killed himself.
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Facebook/Tausha Haight

A 42-year-old man killed seven members of his family, including his five children before taking his own life, just days after he was served with divorce papers by his wife, who was among those shot dead, according to officials and public court records.

In a statement published on Thursday morning, officials in the rural town of Enoch in southwest Utah said that Michael Haight had shot and killed his wife Tausha Haight, 40 and 78-year-old mother-in-law Gail Earl in the family home on Wednesday afternoon, before killing his five children (three daughters and two sons) aged between 4 and 17.


Court records show that Tausha Haight filed for divorce on Dec. 21 and that Michael Haight was served with divorce papers on Dec. 27. 

James Park, a lawyer who represented Tausha Haight, told AP that his client had not expressed any fear her husband would physically hurt her. Park said he only met with her twice, most recently on Tuesday, describing her as “an incredibly nice lady.”

Police were called to the house by concerned relatives and friends who had not heard from the victims in some time.  

Neighbors and friends who knew the family have expressed their shock at the shooting, saying the family are active members of the local church. 

“Many of us have served with them in church, in the community and gone to school with these individuals,” Rob Dotson, Enoch City Manager, said in a statement Wednesday night . “This community at this time is hurting. They’re feeling loss, they’re feeling pain and they have a lot of questions.”

Dotson said that the investigation is ongoing and it would take time to fully understand what had taken place inside the home.

“We won't know the mindsets, the thoughts of the individuals who experienced this tragedy, but we all can pray that their families and the neighbors and all will come to an understanding of what happened in this place, probably in a day or two, or maybe longer,” Dotson said, choking up at one point.


Dotson said that investigators from the Iron County Sheriff's office and Cedar City Police Department were assisting the Enoch City Police Department in the investigation. 

Local elected officials offered condolences to the family and friends of the family on social media on Wednesday night.

“Our hearts go out to all those affected by this senseless violence. Please keep the community of Enoch in your prayers,” Gov. Spencer Cox tweeted, while Utah’s Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson wrote: “What a tragedy. I’m praying for the community of Enoch tonight.”

A statement from the White House said “the President and First Lady are mourning with the Enoch City, Utah community in the wake of a tragic shooting” before pointing out the need for more gun control laws.

“Less than one month after we marked 10 years since the Sandy Hook tragedy, another mass shooting has claimed the lives of five more children in Enoch City,” the statement said.

Richard Jensen, a city councilman, told the New York Times that he had spent the night crying after learning about the shooting. “This was a respected community member and church leader, and it is sending shock waves,” Jensen said of Michael Haight.

One neighbor told local station KSL that the family were active members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A number of outlets reported that neighbors said the father worked as an insurance agent.

The local Iron County School District confirmed that all of the children who died attended schools in the district. “Eight members of a family residing in Enoch with five students in our schools tragically passed away,” a statement posted on the district’s website read. “This loss is sure to raise many emotions, concerns, and questions for our entire school district, especially our students.”

Counselors from the district’s crisis intervention team will be on hand to help any students, parents and school employees in the aftermath of the shooting, the statement said.

“We are saddened by the loss to our school community and will make every effort to help you and your child as needed,” the statement concluded.

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