David Ragsdale

LEHI — A 35-year-old man allegedly shot and killed his wife Sunday morning on her 30th birthday in a Lehi church parking lot.

David Ragsdale had been waiting for his wife to arrive in the parking lot of the chapel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 1631 E. 900 North just after 11 a.m., police said.

His wife, Kristy Ragsdale, had already been to church earlier that morning for an interview with her bishop but left to go pick up her mother.

When she returned to the church, a few minutes after the morning sacrament meeting started, she stepped out of her minivan on the icy pavement while he stepped out of his silver BMW wielding a 9mm handgun, police told the Deseret Morning News.

Lehi Police Sgt. Jeff Swenson said there were several witnesses to the shooting. "And they've told us he didn't say a word. He just quickly walked up to her and a fired a series of rounds."

Kristy Ragsdale was hit numerous times, police said.

The shooter fled the scene, and the congregation's leader, Bishop James Davidson, canceled the remainder of the Sunday services.

Lehi police and the Utah County sheriff immediately dispatched a SWAT team to search for the shooter, establishing a wide perimeter around the church, law enforcement officials said.

David Ragsdale had apparently driven to his brother's home about eight miles to the north in the Traverse Mountain area. Forty-five minutes later the search ended when David Ragsdale's brother called Lehi Police Chief Chad Smith and reported that David Ragsdale was sitting next to him at his home.

Smith said he never spoke to David Ragsdale on the phone but "managed to talk him into turning himself in" using the brother as an intermediary.

The brother drove David Ragsdale to the Lehi police station where officers arrested him at about 12:20 p.m. and questioned him for about five hours, police said later.

"I saw him down at the station," an officer said at the crime scene. "He just looked blank. Just sitting there staring."

Late Sunday night, police recovered a 9mm Glock handgun at the residence of Ragsdale's brother, Swenson said.

Police said the Ragsdales have two small children, but the children were not at the church Sunday morning. They were in Draper at the time of the shooting and were with family members Sunday night.

Kristy Ragsdale petitioned for a protective order against her husband on Dec. 4, but during a scheduled hearing on Dec. 20, both she and David Ragsdale agreed to a "mutual restraining order" in divorce action, according to 4th District Court documents.

"Restraining orders aren't worth anything," said an emotional and discouraged Smith during an interview at the church crime scene. "How can we protect (the) thousands (of people) with them (restraining orders)? Bless her heart."

Although most officers would not speculate as to a possible motive for the slaying, Swenson told the Deseret Morning News that the divorce wasn't the only difficulty in the Ragsdale marriage. Swenson said David Ragsdale had a "history of domestic violence."

Neighbors said the couple seemed unhappy in the past, even before their separation just after Thanksgiving when she changed the locks.

"As soon as I heard that she had been shot, I couldn't help but think he's done something horrible, because of comments she's made about being unhappy," said neighbor Carolee Courter, 32, who's also going through a divorce. Courter said she and Kristy Ragsdale would talk about and confide in each other about their divorces.

"She was very resolved and relived (after the separation)," Courter said.

Other nearby neighbors described David Ragsdale as intellectual and impassive.

"He didn't seem like a violent person though," said neighbor Kevin Malone, 55. "He just kept to himself and worked a lot."

Swenson said David Ragsdale would be booked for investigation of aggravated murder, but he had not been booked into the Utah County Jail as of press time Sunday night.

E-mail: jhancock@desnews.com; estuart@desnews.com