PROVO Prosecutors said Monday they are considering filing a capital murder charge against David Ragsdale, accused of shooting his wife 10 times after she got out of her minivan Sunday to worship with her LDS congregation in Lehi on her 30th birthday.
The shooting occurred just a month after a judge noted on a Dec. 5 petition for a temporary protective order filed by Kristy Koreen Ragsdale against her husband: "Warning! Weapon Involved."
Still, the violent end to the life of a young mother of two boys stunned family, friends, church leaders and Kristy Ragsdale's attorney, state Rep. Lori Fowlke, R-Orem.
Kristy Ragsdale had agreed to drop the protective order on Dec. 20 in exchange for a mutual restraining order simply designed to keep them from harassing each other, Fowlke said.
"I was shocked. I was absolutely shocked," Fowlke added. "There was no indication this would happen. She believed they were both reasonable people. She wanted the divorce handled through mediation. She didn't want to fight with him. I don't believe she was afraid of him."
David Ragsdale moved out of the family's home on Oct. 30. His alleged actions when he returned on Dec. 3 prompted his wife's initial decision to seek court protection. He reportedly entered the home screaming profanities and telling everyone to get out of his house.
In front of his wife and her mother and the couple's two sons, ages 4 and 1, as well as his own brother and two sisters, Ragsdale threatened several times to use a gun, according to the petition for a temporary protective order Kristy Ragsdale submitted the next day.
"He said to his brother and sister he had his gun in the car and that he could use that to take care of things and refered (sic) to his gun more than once," the petition said.
Fourth District Judge Steven Hansen signed the protective order on Dec. 5 and marked the box that noted a weapon was involved in the case.
But by Dec. 20, Kristy Ragsdale clearly felt safer, and Fowlke said she wasn't even sure her client would divorce him.
"She wasn't adamant about the divorce," Fowlke said. "She vacillated quite a bit. That's why she filed for temporary separation."
Police and prosecutors said Monday during a court hearing that David Ragsdale learned about the separation filing on Thursday, three days before the shooting. He didn't know his wife was planning to go even further, they said.
"I don't know what happened in the last week, but she decided to go ahead and pursue the divorce, too," Fowlke said, "but we hadn't even started drawing up the papers yet."
Court documents released Monday revealed new information about the shooting.
Witnesses told police David Lester Ragsdale, 35, shot his wife in the back several times and once in the head. One witness said the 6-foot-4, 220-pound man then stood over and shot her more than once from very close range. Ten shots were fired.
The shooting took place just after 11 a.m. in the parking lot of a wardhouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 1631 E. 900 North.
"We are shocked and dismayed at the senseless act of violence that took the life of Sister Kristy Koreen Ragsdale and shattered the peace and endangered hundreds of worshippers on a quiet Sabbath morning," LDS Church spokesman Scott Trotter said in a statement. "Our sympathy and prayers go out to all who have been affected by this tragedy, especially the family and friends of all those involved. We pray they will find peace and comfort in the promises of the Lord, that death is not final, and that life is eternal."
On Monday, 4th District Judge Samuel McVey ordered Ragsdale held without bail. Deputy Utah County Attorney Guy Probert said the state is considering a capital murder charge because children were present and at least six other people were endangered during the shooting.
A stray bullet could have struck Kristy Ragsdale's mother, Ann Palizzi, 56, who was standing six feet away, Probert said. The mother and daughter had arrived at the church just after sacrament meeting had begun inside the church building.
Stray shots also could have struck a nearby home, a man and two boys walking about 20 to 30 feet away, and two other men about 30 to 40 feet away.
The Ragsdale's children, Brandon and Carter, were at their father's residence in Draper at the time of the shooting.
Kristy Ragsdale had already been to church earlier that morning for an interview with her bishop but left to go pick up her mother.
David Ragsdale was taking the antidepressant medications Doxepin and Paroxetine, a testosterone medication and sleep aids, police and prosecutors told the judge.
"It is feared that he might harm the victim's mother and/or his children if he were to be released from custody," Lehi police officer Jared Martinsen wrote in an affidavit provided to the judge.
McVey set Ragsdale's next hearing for Monday.
Ragsdale was working as an education counselor for Investools in Draper, where he has worked since May 2001, said Aimee Fite, the company's human resources manager. The company has taken no action regarding his employment.
"We are very sympathetic of the friends and family of the Ragsdale family, both Kristy's and David's," Fite said. "We are letting authorities move forward with their investigation."
Fowlke said nothing about the Ragsdales' case led her to expect this kind of violence. As a legislator, she expressed concern about the use and misuse of protective orders in divorce and custody cases, and said she and others have worked to craft laws that make them stronger and reduce their abuse.
Kristy Ragsdale's protective order had protected not only her but her mother and the couple's two boys.
"He aggressively said emotional abusive things to the children," Kristy Ragsdale wrote in her petition, describing threats she said her husband made in front of the children, her mother, her brother Kyle Palizzi and John, Lauren and Tami Ragsdale.
"I'm not sure," she added, "how mentally stable he is right now based off of his aggressive verbal and emotional behavior in the presence of our children."
But her concerns apparently faded quickly.
Fowlke said Kristy Ragsdale was close to the Ragsdale family, especially her sisters-in-law, who often helped with the children."She had her whole life in front of her," Fowlke said. "This is a tragedy for everybody. I know she was close to his family, so I'm sure they're devastated as well."