Small Utah Town Reels After Murder-suicide Kills 8 Family Members: John Lavalla, an Enoch resident, recently met Michael Haight, a neighbor. Lavalla relocated to the modest-sized but rapidly growing southern Utah hamlet in March. He was shocked by Haight as he was unloading his moving truck.
“Do you require aid? Your new neighbor is me. Mike is my name, he declared. Have you ever had kids? The father of a 6-year-old, Lavalla, answered positively. Oh, I have six-year-old twins. That is ideal because nobody else on the street is their age; everyone is either older or younger. Therefore, they will be best buddies, Haight said.
And they grew to be best friends. His daughter would spend hours riding bikes in the neighborhood with the Haight kids over the ensuing months. And Lavalla, who was fighting cancer, became close with the welcoming family who lived across the street and frequently checked in to see how his chemotherapy was progressing. Haight was reticent, but nobody perceived him to be a killer.
Police reported that on Thursday, 42-year-old Haight shot and killed his wife of 20 years, Tausha, his five children, and his mother-in-law Gail Earl before killing himself. According to court documents, Tausha had filed for divorce two weeks prior.
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The 17-year-old daughter, the 12-year-old daughter, the 7-year-old daughter, the 7-year-old son, and the 4-year-old son were all discovered dead on Wednesday at around 4 p.m. in their home on Albert Drive in Enoch, small Iron County suburb nestled up against I-15 about eight miles north of Cedar City and 250 miles south of Salt Lake City.
“No one ever anticipated this would occur. And he isn’t the kind of person you would have imagined could pull this off, added Lavalla. According to Enoch city manager Rob Dotson, someone Tausha Haight had an appointment with on Wednesday morning called the police to request a welfare check after she failed to show up.
A missing person report was sought and received by the Cedar City Police Department a few hours after the welfare check because Tausha was not found, according to Dotson. Following the transmission of that missing person’s report to Enoch police, “the welfare check to locate Tausha became an endeavor to locate the entire family,” he claimed.
According to Cedar City’s Fifth District Court records, Tausha Haight filed for divorce on December 21, 2022. The court granted a domestic relations injunction that same day stating that neither party may use any method, including technological means, to harass or threaten the other. Additionally, it forbids maltreatment of a kid or another person in the home.
According to Jackson Ames, the chief of police in Enoch, the department looked into the family a few years ago. He didn’t go into detail about the Thursday investigation, but he did add that the cops “were familiar with the family.”
Although several neighbors who spoke with the Deseret News said they thought Michael and Tausha were still living together and that Gail Earl, Tausha’s mother, had been at the home since Christmas to help the family transition during the divorce, authorities were unable to confirm who was residing there at the time of the shooting.
According to other neighbors, the family was Latter-day Saints in good standing, and the husband worked in insurance. While the precise time of the shooting is still unknown, Enoch Mayor Geoffrey Chestnut stated that multiple witnesses had conversations with Tausha and one of her daughters the night before they were killed at a church function.
There had been no reports of gunfire or anything odd, according to city officials. Regarding the area where the Heights resided, Chestnut remarked, “They’re enormous homes on half-acre lots. “Your neighbors’ dwellings don’t make much noise,”
On Sunday, when Michael Haight was shoveling snow, his father-in-law, who asked that his name not be used, spoke with Michael. Haight informed him, “We’re going to have a lot of snow, so get ready.” The following day, he ran across Tausha, who was driving her pickup out of the driveway and waving at him. Later that afternoon, she came back and waved once again.
Like she always did, she backed into the garage. The Deseret News on Thursday reported that he had said, “And that was the last time I saw her. More details will be made public, according to Enoch officials, once more evidence is gathered, witnesses are questioned, and autopsies are performed. On Wednesday, the investigation continued until into the morning. According to police, the bodies were taken Thursday morning.
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Living only around the corner from the residence and formerly belonging to the same ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Esther stated, “It’s simply a terrible thing to happen in a small community like this.” “Everyone here knows everyone.” Esther, who wished to be identified only by her first name, claimed that the Iron County School District’s letter informed her family of the incident.
The incident shocked the 7,500 residents of the small but expanding town, which is made up of farms and recently built suburbs and is home to many young families. On Wednesday, when Lavalla, the neighbor, noticed police officers gazing into the Haights’ home’s windows, he realized something wasn’t right. After a little while, they rapped on his door.
“Do you remember seeing them leave? They came to ask me. How did they get around? What spot do they often park in? Standard welfare check inquiries,” he stated. He began to piece it together over the following hour while the officers kept ringing the doorbell. The driveway was occupied by the two cars. The municipal manager of Enoch is pacing in front of the house. The policeman was moving quickly down the street.
Lavalla paused before continuing, “When they unlocked the garage, her truck was there.” “Then I realized they were all gone,” she said. The Haights’ house, which is currently cordoned off, was the focus of his daughter’s attention all morning.
She questioned, “With whom am I going to ride bikes now? We have lots of people in the area to ride bikes with, Lavalla retorted. You don’t comprehend, she retorted. “We all compete in races. Down the street, all of us. If we don’t have all of them, we can’t race.
The recently constructed grey stucco home has automobiles parked in the driveway and an Iron County Sheriff’s Department trailer parked outside with Christmas lights still strung from the roof. Most of the block was enclosed by yellow tape, and as cars passed Albert Drive, people slowed down, craned their necks, and some even took pictures.
Throughout the day, a continuous stream of visitors came by and left flowers and plush animals at the end of the street. That evening, a Latter-day Saint ward opened for a non-denominational vigil with counselors available. A group of girls braved the bitter nighttime rain to deliver bouquets to the neighborhood and take pictures, briefly illuminating the makeshift memorial with the flash from their cell phones.
The Heights were described as a family who appeared to be happy, who were involved in their religion and community, and who welcomed newcomers to the area and were willing to assist them in moving in, by neighbors and city officials on Thursday. The mayor, Chestnut, who resides just a few doors down from the Heights, remarked, “It’s not too often something like this hits quite close to home.”
His voice shook as he paused, “Their younger kids played in my yard with my sons.” Everyone in Enoch City wants to stay because it is such a close-knit community. The people are amazing, the neighborhood is nice, and we take care of one another like family. Just two days removed from their holiday vacation, teachers at nearby schools battled with how to handle the day, a source told the Deseret News.
A local high school, middle school, and elementary school were attended by the five kids. The Iron County School District’s Tim Marriott said, “There are quite a few students who are gone today from our classrooms, and we know that the coming days, weeks, and months are going to be challenging for our schools and our staff.”
The school system stated in a news release that parents and kids will have access to counselors. “Our thoughts are with everyone impacted by this horrible violence. Utah Governor Spencer Cox pleaded with prayer on Wednesday evening for the people of Enoch. Cox also gave the city’s mayor a call to express his sympathy.
There is still work to be done to keep our homes, schools, and communities free from gun violence, according to a statement released by the White House on behalf of President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden on Thursday. The statement states, “The President and First Lady are in deep sorrow with the people of Enoch City, Utah following a horrible shooting that has taken the lives of five children and other adults in their family home.
“Gun violence continues to be the number one killer of children in America, and too many Americans have lost loved ones or had their lives forever altered as a result. Five more children have died in a mass shooting in Enoch City less than a month after it had been 10 years since the Sandy Hook massacre.