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Students, teachers puzzled over Brigham City murder-suicide

Published: Thursday, Sept. 3 2015 7:42 a.m. MDT

Alix Norman, 16, was shot and killed Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013, in Brigham City. Police say her stepfather, 45-year-old Michael Woodruff, shot and killed the Box Elder High School student, her dog, and then shot and killed himself. (Family photo) Alix Norman, 16, was shot and killed Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013, in Brigham City. Police say her stepfather, 45-year-old Michael Woodruff, shot and killed the Box Elder High School student, her dog, and then shot and killed himself. (Family photo)

BRIGHAM CITY — Teachers say 16-year-old Alix Norman was a quiet student, but her artwork spoke volumes.

"When you looked at it, you were interested because it had a lot of movement, and a lot of emotion in it," said Box Elder Middle School art teacher Shelley Smyka. "She was a really great inspiration to me."

"You would often walk by her desk, and she would be doodling something, but it was way beyond just doodling," added technology teacher Matt Williams.

Wednesday, teachers, students, friends and family members were in mourning and disbelief, wondering why the teen's stepfather, 45-year-old Michael Woodruff, allegedly shot and killed the girl, her dog, and then himself.

Alix Norman, 16, was shot and killed Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013, in Brigham City. Police say her stepfather, 45-year-old Michael Woodruff, shot and killed the Box Elder High School student, her dog, and then shot and killed himself. (Family photo) Alix Norman, 16, was shot and killed Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013, in Brigham City. Police say her stepfather, 45-year-old Michael Woodruff, shot and killed the Box Elder High School student, her dog, and then shot and killed himself. (Family photo)

The investigation into the puzzling murder-suicide continued Wednesday when investigators tracked down where Woodruff had obtained the .40-caliber handgun believed to have been used in the killings.

A close friend of Woodruff's contacted police fearing the gun might be his, said Brigham City Police Lt. Michael Nelson. He had loaned guns to Woodruff many times in the past so he could go target shooting. Sometimes they went shooting together. On Tuesday, the friend told police Woodruff again wanted to borrow a gun to go shooting because he told him he was thinking of buying one.

"He thought nothing of it," said Nelson, who described the friend as "devastated."

Alix had gone to school Tuesday and went to all of her classes, investigators said. Her mother found the bodies, in separate rooms, about 5:30 p.m. after she came home from work.

Alix Norman, 16, was shot and killed Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013, in Brigham City. Police say her stepfather, 45-year-old Michael Woodruff, shot and killed the Box Elder High School student, her dog, and then shot and killed himself. (Family photo) Alix Norman, 16, was shot and killed Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013, in Brigham City. Police say her stepfather, 45-year-old Michael Woodruff, shot and killed the Box Elder High School student, her dog, and then shot and killed himself. (Family photo)

About an hour earlier, neighbors reported hearing a series of "bangs" coming from the house, Nelson said. But because the house has been under construction for remodeling recently, they assumed it was a nail gun.

Both Alix and Woodruff were shot twice. Woodruff was believed to have only injured himself after his first shot before he fired a second time, Nelson said.

Investigators were at a loss for a motive for the killings Wednesday. There was no note and few clues in the home. Police were unaware of any domestic problems.

"The relationship between the stepfather and the daughter was doing quite well," Nelson said after talking to relatives of the family. "Everybody was just in total shock."

At Box Elder High and Box Elder Middle School, where Alix attended last year, students and faculty were also in shock.

"This is what I hate most about being a teacher, is getting close to kids and then losing them for one reason or another. And that's a hard thing to take," English teacher Shannon Cheney said.

Contributed: Mike Anderson

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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