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Autopsies of 2 boys complete, but police mostly mum on details

Published: Monday, Nov. 18 2013 4:50 p.m. MST

Taylor Wheeler, 12, died Friday, Nov. 15, 2013, in a South Jordan home of an apparent gunshot wound. (Family photo) Taylor Wheeler, 12, died Friday, Nov. 15, 2013, in a South Jordan home of an apparent gunshot wound. (Family photo)

SOUTH JORDAN — The initial autopsies on two young boys found dead in the basement of a Daybreak home have been completed.

But South Jordan police on Monday said they likely will not be releasing any additional information until Friday at the earliest, not even to confirm whether the boys died from gunshot wounds as is believed.

Three guns were seized from the house and family members have said that guns were involved.

Taylor Wheeler, 12, and Dayton Gessell, 15, were found dead Friday inside a home at 4781 W. Pine Canyon Way. Neither boy lived in the house. Three other teens were also in the basement at the time, a 16-year-old and two 14-year-olds.

An adult homeowner and another juvenile were upstairs at the time of the incident. After the shootings, at least two of the boys from the basement ran out of the house and flagged down an off-duty West Valley police officer who lives in the area and was heading home.

Dayton Gessell, 15, was found dead of an apparent gunshot wound Friday, Nov. 15, 2013, in South Jordan. (Family photo) Dayton Gessell, 15, was found dead of an apparent gunshot wound Friday, Nov. 15, 2013, in South Jordan. (Family photo)

Some of the questions investigators are still trying to get answered include where the weapons came from, how the boys got them and what their intentions were.

Detectives hope answering those questions will help them understand whether the deaths of the two boys were a tragic accident, reckless horseplay or something else. Police have not said whether either of the boys died from a self-inflicted injury.

South Jordan Police Lt. Rob Hansen said Monday that there were still several people whom detectives need to interview before the department releases more information to the public about what they believe happened in the house that night. Those people include friends and classmates of the boys.

The 16-year-old and two 14-year-olds were taken to the South Jordan Police Department Friday night and "processed," meaning that police took fingerprints, photographs and swabs for DNA samples. None of them were arrested or booked into juvenile detention, Hansen said, but were released to the custody of their parents. The swabs and fingerprints were part of the investigation, he said.

Friends, family and community members gather Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013, for a candlelight vigil at Firmont Park in South Jordan to remember Dayton Gessell, 15, and Taylor Wheeler, 12, who died inside a home in the Daybreak community from gunshot wounds. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News) Friends, family and community members gather Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013, for a candlelight vigil at Firmont Park in South Jordan to remember Dayton Gessell, 15, and Taylor Wheeler, 12, who died inside a home in the Daybreak community from gunshot wounds. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

The 16-year-old boy was interviewed by detectives for about 45 minutes, Hansen said. Police still want to interview the 14-year-olds. Two of those three boys live in the house where the bodies were found.

The boys have never been in trouble with police that involved violence, Hansen said, but officers have been to that home prior to Friday for juvenile-related issues, he said.

Investigators have also said that they do not believe there are any outstanding suspects in the case.

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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