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Police Follow Texts to Horrific Murder-Suicide

Police Follow Texts to Horrific Murder-Suicide

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Associated Press

December 19, 2009

WEST JORDAN, Utah — Two adults and their two children were found dead in an apparent murder-suicide after friends, relatives and co-workers received text messages from the father saying he had killed his family, police said.

Justin Zachariah Matern, 34; his estranged wife Melissa Ann Matern, 31; and their sons, 6-year-old Gabriel and 4-year-old Raiden, were found dead from apparent gunshot wounds Thursday night in a unit at the Willow Cove apartment complex, West Jordan police Sgt. Drew Sanders said.

Officers started searching for the family Thursday evening after police in Salt Lake City and Midvale were contacted by people who had received text messages from Justin Matern at about 7 p.m. The texts indicated he had just killed his family and that he planned to kill himself, Sanders said.

No one who received the text messages, however, had an address for the family, Sanders said.

After a possible address was located on an old police report, West Jordan officers went to the apartment and discovered the bodies around 8:45 p.m., Sanders said.

He said no one in the apartment complex reported hearing gunshots.

“Had the people that got the text messages not called police, we still might not know about this,” Sanders said.

Sanders said the married couple was separated but had no history of domestic violence. He said Melissa Matern and the two boys had recently moved into the West Jordan apartment.

Police also say Justin Matern left a letter at his workplace revealing his plans. It wasn’t discovered until after the deaths, police said.

(This version CORRECTS that text messages said he had already killed his family, not that he was going to kill them.)

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 5 years ago

    I just don't understand this world sometimes. I can't understand how a parent can take the lives of their innocent children. It seems this is happening more and more every year. How can a person be so evil as to take the lives of children. I can almost understand how he may want to take the life of a spouse and might justify it by saying she wronged him.....almost. But their is no reason that I can imagine why someone would take the life of a CHILD. Some might say it is mental illness but I am gonna call BS on that. The only way you can explain it is by calling it what it is......pure evil.

  • Popo_max50


    over 5 years ago


    My heart & prayers go out to the family. Also, to the officers who have to work this incident. GOD BLESS & BE SAFE!!

  • 74596_129289523905506_927477597_n_max50


    over 5 years ago


    I was going to say maybe he lost his job because there have been cases out here where a husband/father would lose his job and since he felt there was no hope for him supporting the family, would kill them all then himself...but it says he left a letter at his workplace....

    What strikes me as odd is that no one knew their address....and I call BS on the "no history of DV" part. There had to have been some huge warning signs going off. Very sad story :(

  • Anonymous-killer-whale-232189_1__max50


    over 5 years ago


    A pathetic individual. Couldn't just go on his own, had to kill everyone. RIP Mom and kids. You deserved better ....

  • Draped_badge_max50


    over 5 years ago


    DV is a slow process as skoolcop describes the excuses...He gradually tears you down so that you think you are worthless. He takes you away from all your friends and makes you totally dependent on him...Before they made the mandatory arrests on used to kill me to keep going back to the houses and then the woman or man (happens both ways) would refuse to prosecute...I tried to talk many a woman out of staying but always got called back, problem is even with the DV law they let the offending party back in the house the minue they are able. I used to have the argument with my ex also a cop, his opinion was screw them they stay in the situation, it's their fault never could make him see the other side of the argument..

  • Pot_luck_at_work_max50


    over 5 years ago


    Cowardice at its finest.

  • 004_max50


    over 5 years ago


    These children should have been given the chance to live out their lives. What a coward. How do you send a text to multiple people and none of them have a address? They must be feeling pretty bad right now. At \least they called the texts in.

  • Photo_user_banned_big


    over 5 years ago


    No Comment.........

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 5 years ago

    Ron, your right as always!

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 5 years ago

    So sad. My prayers go out to the family. Tragic.

  • 101_0072_max50


    over 5 years ago


    Its sick someone can just take out their family like that.

  • Pug_max600_max50


    over 5 years ago


    Real Piece of Work. Dad, Justin Zachariah Matern, may he RIP (Rot in Pieces).

  • Honorvalor_max50


    over 5 years ago


    This is so sad.... Rest in Peace to the mother and her 2 children.. May the father have what is coming to him..

  • Picture_064_max50


    over 5 years ago


    This is a sad thing to happen, its bad enough to worry about the people around you but to worry that the people you love and trust can do such a thing that is scary. I just hope other people can learn to report things like DV before its too late for another family. That includes friend.

  • Archangel_max50


    over 5 years ago


    Well said SkoolCop. Awful, awful incident.

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