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Family, friends remember South Jordan boys who died in shooting

Published: Sunday, Nov. 17 2013 8:35 p.m. MST

Friends family and community members gather Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013 for a candlelight vigil at Firmont Park in Day Break, to talk and remember Taylor Wheeler and Dayton Gessell who passed away earlier this week. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News) Friends family and community members gather Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013 for a candlelight vigil at Firmont Park in Day Break, to talk and remember Taylor Wheeler and Dayton Gessell who passed away earlier this week. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

SOUTH JORDAN — Charlé Meier stood on a picnic table handing out candles and tissues to dozens of teenagers who gathered in a park Sunday to remember her son and his friend.

"We can get through this," she said, also passing out colored notebook paper for them to jot down a memory, a wish or even a secret about the two boys. "Nobody got a chance to say goodbye."

Meier's son, Taylor Wheeler, 12, and Dayton Gessell, 15, were found shot to death Friday inside a home in the Daybreak community. Neither boy lived in the house.

Police have not said how the shooting occurred.

Investigators were awaiting results of autopsies and were not releasing any new information Sunday, said South Jordan police Sgt. Sam Winkler. He said the investigation would be "active" over the next several weeks.

Ariyl Meier stands with her candle during a vigil for her brother Taylor Wheeler who passed away. Friends family and community members gather Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013 for a candlelight vigil at Firmont Park in Day Break, to talk and remember the Dayton Gessell and Talor Wheeler who passed away earlier this week. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News) Ariyl Meier stands with her candle during a vigil for her brother Taylor Wheeler who passed away. Friends family and community members gather Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013 for a candlelight vigil at Firmont Park in Day Break, to talk and remember the Dayton Gessell and Talor Wheeler who passed away earlier this week. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

"This is a tragedy. The family's devastated. We really don't have any words to say. It's hard, very hard. These kids were so young with so much life ahead of them," said Shawn Graham, Dayton's uncle.

Graham said it's very important to find out what happened and how it happened to help the family find closure. He said he and his 8-year-old son talked about the dangers of guns on the way to the vigil.

"We don't know what happened in there. Obviously we know that guns were involved. I was telling him anytime you're around and guns come out, you need to leave," he said.

Investigators recovered three handguns from the home, but Winkler said they have been unable to confirm where the guns came from, who owns them or if they were used in the shooting.

Friends family and community members gather Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013 for a candlelight vigil at Firmont Park in Day Break, to talk and remember Dayton Gessell and Taylor Wheeler who passed away earlier this week. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News) Friends family and community members gather Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013 for a candlelight vigil at Firmont Park in Day Break, to talk and remember Dayton Gessell and Taylor Wheeler who passed away earlier this week. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

Police took three teens — ages 16, 14 and 14 — who were in the house at the time to the police station but did not question them, Winkler said. Two of the three live in the home and police released all three to their parents.

Meier organized the candlelight vigil in a small park near the house where the boys were found.

"We are here for these kids because these kids need a somewhere to be together," she said, holding two weeping daughters close. "We need to hold each other up. … Everybody loved these boys. They were just boys. Look at all this love."

Meier described her son as "a smile and a hug."

Friends and family members shared hugs and shed tears as they reminisced about Taylor and Dayton.

"He was just happy-go-lucky," said Taylor's friend Drew Francom.

Charle' Meier mother of Taylor Wheeler talks about her son. Friends family and community members gather Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013 for a candlelight vigil at Firmont Park in Day Break, to talk and remember Taylor Wheeler and Dayton Gessell who passed away earlier this week. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News) Charle' Meier mother of Taylor Wheeler talks about her son. Friends family and community members gather Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013 for a candlelight vigil at Firmont Park in Day Break, to talk and remember Taylor Wheeler and Dayton Gessell who passed away earlier this week. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

Francom put a dollar bill on the picnic table next to the glowing candles and photos of the two boys. He said he wanted to repay Taylor for the dollar he gave him for lunch at school last week.

Dayton wanted to be an engineer, Graham said. "He was amazing with math. You could throw him a math problem and he didn't have to write it down. He could just hammer it out."

Jackie Schwartz, a friend of Dayton's who brought a rose to the vigil, said Dayton was good to his younger brother and sister.

"It just shouldn't have to happen to them or anybody," she said. "It's hard on everybody."

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