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Texts lead Utah police to 4 dead in murder-suicide

WEST JORDAN, Utah - WEST JORDAN, Utah (AP) — 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.)


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