LA VERKIN, Utah (AP) — Seven members of a Utah family who were killed last week in what police believe was a murder-suicide were remembered on Friday by friends, neighbors, family and classmates.
Community members gathered in the town of La Verkin to mourn the loss of Tausha Haight, 40, her mother Gail Earl, 78, and Haight’s five children — Macie, Briley, Sienna, Ammon, and Gavin, who ranged in age from 4 to 17.
Police believe Michael Haight killed his wife, her mother and his five children last week before taking his own life at the family’s home weeks after being served divorce papers.
Brett Earl — Tausha Haight’s brother — told reporters after the funeral that despite the circumstances surrounding the deaths, the two sides of the family had come together to mourn shared losses. In prepared remarks focused heavily on the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Earl remembered his mother, sister, nieces and nephews as a loving family, KSL-TV reported.
“Nothing meant more to Mom and Tausha than family,” Earl said in front of a church meetinghouse.
Gail Earl’s children remembered her as a devout, service-oriented woman and an incredible mother willing to make sacrifices for her family.
Family members said Macie Haight, 17, had a quick sense of humor and planned to attend Southern Utah University and later start a family of her own. They remembered Briley Haight, 12, as a boy who loved to read books and play the piano.
Kandace Earl Booth said Sienna Haight, 7, loved reading and school and her twin brother Ammon loved trains and the Titanic Lego set he had just gotten for Christmas.
Stacha Earl Westbrook, another aunt, said Gavin, 4, loved drawing and giving family members hugs. Each of the victims were described as loving family members.
The tragedy rocked Enoch, an 8,000-person town on the outskirts of Cedar City. Officials said last week that law enforcement is continuing to investigate the Haight family deaths.
Police found the eight bodies after conducting a welfare check based on a call from a friend who said Tausha Haight had missed an appointment earlier in the week. Family members later said Michael Haight had removed guns from the household prior to the killings. Police also said that they had investigated Michael Haight years earlier, further suggesting possible problems inside the household.
The murder-suicide drew national attention and words of condolence from Utah officials and President Joe Biden. It underscored how family mass killings have become a disturbingly common tragedy across the United States, occurring on average every 3.5 weeks for the last two decades.