WEST JORDAN — Those who know Dustin Pead might say, "He's such a quiet person, upstanding prosecutor, great family man, I would never believe he would be capable of doing something like this."

They would be right most of the time. But once a year when the leaves dry up and die and the moon turns ghastly, this federal prosecutor lets loose his dark side.

It's enough to have neighbors snatch their kids and lock their doors — if it wasn't so much fun.

Dressed as "the executioner" Dustin Pead walks through his garage, which tonight will be turned into a chamber of horrors. He pulls the linchpin on a guillotine as the blade drops with a darkly satisfying "snap!"

His wife Tara Pead walks up, dressed in a clever costume as Marie Antoinette, carrying her own head. "I'm the after-effect," she says with a laugh.

It appears Pead's dark side has rubbed off on his family. In fact, the whole neighborhood.

It took two months of preparation and planning for this day. "There's all kinds of different lighting, three different kinds of fog machines and all kinds of separate rooms," Pead says pointing to a coffin next to a basket filled with mannequin heads. "We really like to make the kids earn their candy, that's the theory at our house. And if we can get a couple to soil themselves, all the better," he adds with a mischievous grin.

His love for Halloween stems from his childhood. "This really goes back to my neighborhood when I grew up, where virtually every home did trick-or-treating, and those homes that went out of their way to make it special and turn the night into something a little bit more macabre was enjoyable," he said.

In his day job working for the U.S. Attorney's Office as a federal prosecutor, Pead deals with real horrors and difficult cases. He says creating spooks and ghouls is therapeutic for him, in a way.

"The job is so difficult, you're dealing with a real grim reality in many circumstances. Some people would say, 'Why would you do this sort of thing?' This is not grim. This is escapism," Pead said. "It is a huge outlet compared to what we do every day."

In the end, Pead is passing on a bit of what he had in his childhood to his kids and the neighborhood. "It's the gift that keeps on giving," he said of his horrific creations.

The Peads are already planning for next year's crazy creations.

"Next year we're doing fairy tales gone bad," Tara Pead said smiling, comfortably cradling her severed head in her gloved arm.

E-mail: gfattah@desnews.com