MAPLETON — A family of four who recently moved to Utah from Switzerland was found shot to death in a Mapleton home Thursday in what police are calling a possible murder-suicide.
The bodies of Timothy Griffith, 45, and his wife, Jessica Griffith, 42, and their children were discovered about 9:35 p.m. Thursday inside a house at 1502 N. state Route 89 after a neighbor contacted police, concerned that the family hadn't been seen for a few days.
The family moved to the small Utah County town from Switzerland in July for Timothy Griffith's job, Mapleton police said in a prepared statement.
The couple's 5-year-old son, Alexendre, and Samantha Badel, a 16-year-old daughter to Jessica Griffith, were found slain in the home, authorities said. The family's dog had also been shot and killed.
"(Police) knocked on the door and didn’t get an answer. They started to walk around the house and couldn’t get anyone to come out. And they noticed the lights were off. The neighbor said the lights had been off for a few days, the cars haven’t moved for a few days,” said Mapleton Police Chief John Jackson.
In addition, a resident of the house had not shown up for work for a few days, he said.
"As officers looked around the home they observed things that caused them concern," the chief said. "One of the things that caught their attention was neighbors had said they have a dog that when somebody knocks on the door is very aggressive and barks. They didn't get any of that."
After not getting any response, the officers entered the house through a window and found the bodies inside.
Jackson said preliminary indication is the family died as a result of a murder-suicide. Asked why police suspect that, Jackson said: "Just the layout of where bodies were positioned," but he declined to further discuss what the crime scene looked like or possible evidence that was collected.
Investigators spent the night executing a search warrant at the house and processing the crime scene.
Doug Allan, who lives next door, said the husband was American and his wife was French and the children's primary language was French.
"Never heard them fight, never heard a thing over there,” he said. "Quite a shock to me. When I got up this morning, I seen all the (police) lights on over there, 15 to 20 cars. I thought, ‘This don’t look good.'… Sad deal. Those little kids sure didn’t deserve that."
Jackson said the deaths are difficult for the neighborhood.
"It's going to rock our community," he said. "It's going to tear some people up, because these people up here care about each other. So this will hit them hard. But they'll come together. They always do."
Timothy Griffith worked for Nestlé and recently transferred to its operation in Springville, a spokeswoman for the company said Friday.
"We are shocked and saddened to learn of the deaths of our Nestlé employee Tim Griffiths and his family," the company said in a prepared statement, saying it has arranged to bring on counselors for Springville employees.
At Maple Mountain High School, where Samantha was a sophomore, four grief counselors were made available Friday and were set to return next week.
"There were a few tears" at the girl's school of 1,200, mostly among students who had classes with the teen, said Nebo School District spokesman Lana Hiskey.15 comments on this story
"This is a fairly new family to the area, and so we didn't have as many students use the grief counselors as we sometimes do," Hiskey said. Roughly 20 students sought out the meetings.
Police said the state medical examiner is working to determine specifics of what happened to the family.
Free and confidential help and support for victims and survivors of domestic and intimate partner violence is available 24-7 by calling 1-800-897-LINK (5465), or by contacting the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition at udvc.org.
Contributing: Caitlin Burchill, Annie Knox