Authorities have concluded investigations and released autopsy results for a Utah couple and three children who were found dead in a bedroom in their Springville home on Sept. 27, 2014.
The family, according to Springville Police Chief J. Scott Finlayson, had died of “drug toxicity” due to an overdose of a cocktail of drugs in a bid to escape the “pending apocalypse.”
The bodies of the five were first discovered by the couple’s 18-year-old son and his girlfriend inside the master bedroom of the house.
According to a police report, the cause of death of Benjamin and Kristi Strack, and their three children, Benson, 14; Emery, 12; and Zion, 11, was “drug toxicity.”
A police search warrant affidavit said that cups, filled with a “red liquid,” were found near the bodies of the five. Investigators also found empty bottles of methadone and boxes of flu medication.
Some of the red liquid was seen coming out of Kristi’s mouth when her body was found.
“Investigators at the scene determined the cause of death to be an accidental or intentional poisoning either by ingestion or environmental causes… Kristi and Benjamin were lying in the bed and the three children were lying around the bed, covered in bedding up to their necks. Officers reported there was a red liquid substance coming from the mouth of Kristi Strack.
“Also in [a] closed bag, were two empty boxes of allergy relief medication consistent with generic Benadryl… Also located within the residence were empty bottles of liquid Methadone.”
High levels of heroin were found in Benjamin Strack’s system, while Kristi had high levels of the drugs methadone, dextrorphan, diphenhydramine and doxylamine. The children had high levels of diphenhydramine and methadone, according to the autopsy report.
The report ruled suicide in the cases of the two adults, and homicide in the cases of the two youngest children. But in the case of 14-year-old Benson, authorities were unable to determine whether death was due to suicide or homicide because it was uncertain that he was able to consent to suicide death.
However, investigators reported they found no evidence of a struggle that suggested he was forced to take the drugs.
Based on the fact that Benson was the only member of the family who was not tucked up in bed when the bodies were found, investigators concluded that he was the last to die.
“… with the placement of the bodies, it would appear somebody had to position the bodies after they were deceased.”
A farewell letter written by Benson was found. He stated in the letter that he was about to die and that he was leaving his possessions to his best friend.
Investigators also found letters written a few years ago by Kristi to a well-known Utah prison inmate, Dan Lafferty, serving a life sentence. With the help of his brother, Ron, Dan had murdered family members in 1984, including his sister-in-law and her 15-month old daughter, because God told him to do so.
The sister-in-law had reportedly disapproved Dan’s religious views about polygamy.
Investigators said that interviews with friends, members of family, and other people who knew the Stracks, revealed that the couple were deeply concerned about the “evil in the world,” and a “pending apocalypse.” They expressed desire to escape the “impending doom.”
“There seemed to be a concern about a pending apocalypse that the parents bought into. While some friends though that suicide may have been, or could have been, included in their plans, others believed they were going to move somewhere and live off the grid.”
But friends had mistaken their expressions of concern about the state of the world to mean that they were thinking of moving to another place where they could arrange to “live off the grid.”
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