MILLCREEK — A man kicked open the door of his estranged wife's apartment early Wednesday and beat her and their 13-year-old daughter with a crowbar, killing the woman and critically injuring his daughter, according to police.
Walter Brantzeg, 54, was arrested about 9 a.m. near 4500 South and 300 East after calling a couple of local TV stations on his cellphone while driving away from his wife's apartment. He allegedly told reporters what he had done, according to Unified Police Sgt. Melody Gray.
Those reporters contacted Unified police who pinged his phone and found him. Gray said officers had to "talk him into" surrendering as he was initially resistant.
The tragic events began just after 7 a.m. when Walter Brantzeg arrived at Valerie Sue Brantzeg's apartment near 850 W. 3900 South at the Riverbend Apartments. The estranged couple was having "custodial issues," Gray said.
Brantzeg beat both his estranged wife and daughter with a crowbar, she said. Valerie Brantzeg, 50, was able to run outside her apartment and scream for help, alerting neighbors who called 911. She then went back into her apartment where police found her. Gray said Walter Brantzeg fled the scene before officers arrived.
Paramedics worked on the woman in the back of an ambulance while still in the apartment complex parking lot, but she died from her injuries, Gray said.
The girl suffered head injuries and was incoherent when emergency crews arrived, Gray said. She was taken to Primary Children's Hospital in extremely critical condition.
Both the Salt Lake and Granite school districts were made aware Wednesday of what had happened. The 13-year-old girl was just starting her first year at Granite Park Junior High School, according to Granite spokesman Ben Horsley. She had transferred this year from the Salt Lake School District, he said.
Grief counselors were being made available at the schools where the girl has friends.
Pamela Hart, a neighbor who knew both the mother and daughter, said "they were very well-known in the Riverbend Community and very kind people," calling the daughter a "very vivacious girl."
Hart said she and others were aware Valerie Brantzeg was dealing with domestic violence issues.
"Domestic violence needs to be addressed more. Hear women who cry when they need help," Hart said.
According to court records, Valerie Brantzeg filed for temporary separation from her husband on July 31.
From about the mid-1980s to the early-2000s, Brantzeg had several convictions related to aggravated assault and one for sex abuse of a child about 30 years ago, according to court records.11 comments on this story
In a statement, Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera offered condolences to the family of Valerie Brantzeg and her daughter.
"The Unified Police Department's investigative team is working diligently to ensure justice for the victims of this heinous crime," Rivera said.
Rivera also encouraged those who are in abusive relationships to use the state's resources to get help.
The YWCA's Women in Jeopardy program can be reached at 801-537-8600, and a confidential statewide Domestic Violence Hotline is available at 800-897-LINK (5465). Resources are also available online at udvc.org.
Contributing: Ladd Egan, Jed Boal