Spanish Fork father kills 2-year-old son, then himself, police say
But family members suspect child's death may have been accidental
SPANISH FORK — Police are investigating an apparent murder-suicide involving a Spanish Fork man who they say killed his 2-year-old son before killing himself Sunday.
Bryson Drew, 21, and his son, Chanse, were found dead inside a home at 826 S. Fox Hill Drive by Drew's sister around 8:40 p.m., said Spanish Fork Police Lt. Matthew Johnson. Officers initially responded on reports of a suicide and found both Drew and his son.
The child was found in a bedroom on the main floor of the home with blunt force trauma injuries, Johnson said. The boy's father was found in the basement of the home with a single gunshot wound to the head.
A suicide note was found at the home but it didn't offer an explanation for the deaths. "It briefly just stated how the deceased wanted some property passed on to relatives," Johnson said. "At this point, there's lots of unanswered questions."
Bryson Drew's father, Delbert Drew, described his son as a devoted and loving father who never so much as spanked his son.
"Chanse was the apple of his eye," he said of his grandson and son. "He would do anything for his son. ... He loved his son and his son loved him and it's devastating."
Delbert Drew said the family believes there was some sort of accident — he referred to sharp corners in the Spanish Fork home or the duo's love of horseplay that may have gotten out of hand — that led to Chanse's death. He said the family has some letters from Bryson Drew that they will keep private that showed "extreme remorse in what happened" but offered no details about what occurred other than that the young father "felt he had really messed up."
"We may never know exactly what happened in those final moments in the house down there," Delbert Drew said. "Something went terribly wrong in a matter of moments."
He reiterated that there was no animosity at all between his son and grandson. He said he had watched Chanse Friday night and remembers seeing the child run right up to his dad and give him a big hug when he came to pick him up, as he often did.
"I'm not trying to make light of (what happened) and say there was nothing wrong, because there was something wrong, but it was something that happened in the spur of the moment," Delbert Drew said.
Drew and his son had been living with Drew's grandparents, who were out of town on Sunday. Drew had an informal joint custody agreement with the child's mother, but Johnson said the child appeared to have been living with Drew for approximately three weeks.
In a Facebook post from May 11, Bryson Drew wrote: "I love my son Chanse more than anything in this world."
The bodies of the father and his son were transported to the Utah Medical Examiner's Office for autopsies to determine the cause of their deaths. Police said Drew did not have a history of drug abuse, mental illness or alcohol abuse.
“The family members had stated that there were no warning signs. There’s been no involvement with law enforcement. Officers had not responded to the residence prior, so it was a shock to the community as well as the family," the lieutenant said.
“They had a very close relationship. He would take him four-wheeling and they seemed very tight as a father and son,” said one woman who asked not to be identified. “All of the neighborhood is shocked by what has happened.”
Johnson said he, too, had witnessed the unsettling feelings from the neighborhood.
"Several of the neighbors were outside last night while we were conducting our investigation and they are just really sad for the family at this time," Johnson said. "Their thoughts are with the family. It's just something that you hope you never have to have to deal with."
Natalie Snow, human resources and accounting manager for Cascade Collision, said Bryson Drew worked at the company until August 2012. She said he was dedicated to the company and a hard worker.
"He was always super sweet," Snow said. "He was a really nice guy. It never seemed like he had a temper or anything. He was very nice and very willing to do what we needed him to do."
A search of Bryson Drew's court history showed only minor traffic violations and a child support lien case that was classified as "satisfied" with a $0 balance on April 10.
Sunday's deaths occurred about two months after another young Utah County father was implicated in the death of his baby boy. Joshua David Petersen, 22, of American Fork, is charged with aggravated murder, a first-degree felony, in the April 5 death of his 5-month-old son, Ryker.
Prosecutors say Petersen shot the baby before then attempting to shoot himself. He was stopped by a family member.
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