2 teens found dead in South Jordan home identified

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SOUTH JORDAN -- Three juveniles were released to their parents after being questioned by police in connection with the deaths of two boys, ages 12 and 15, in South Jordan Friday, officials said Saturday.

Police later confirmed the identities of the victims to FOX 13 News as Taylor Wheeler, 12, and Dayton Gessell, 15.

Overnight, detectives from the South Jordan Police Department secured search warrants for the home where the bodies were found on Pine Canyon Way, according to a press release from South Jordan Police.

A second press release issued by the South Jordan Police Department Saturday revealed additional details. Detectives recovered three handguns from the crime scene, and "are confident there are no outstanding suspects at this time."

The two victims were removed from the home by medical examiners at about 11 a.m., and examiners will perform autopsies to determine the cause of death. The two were not related to each other and did not reside in the home.

The three juveniles questioned by police--ages 16, 14 and 14--have been processed and released to their parents, according to the press release.

Sgt. Sam Winkler of the South Jordan Police Department said officers were drawn to the home Friday afternoon at about 4:30 p.m. when an individual flagged down a passing police car and claimed there had been a shooting near 4781 W. Pine Canyon Lane.

“Which is about the time where people would still be at work and people even coming home from school at that hour,” Winkler said.

Officials entered the home in question and found two deceased individuals in the basement of the home, according to a press release from the South Jordan Police Department.

“We arrived and we observed the two deceased individuals and we locked down the house as a crime scene,” Winkler said.

The three boys were taken into custody for questioning but police said they are not suspects at this time.

“When they have a couple of their friends that this happened to that they’d be quite traumatized,” Winkler said of the three. “That’s why it took so long to go through the process. We wanted to be gentle with them. We wanted to make sure we comforted them and met their needs in addition to the investigation.”

Winkler said they are treating it as a murder investigation, and he said that's not something his department deals with regularly. He said they are holding off on providing specific details until they can be verified.

"We don't handle a lot of these incidents," he said. "We want to make sure that the information we give out is correct, and we want to make sure it comes through the correct channels."

Because of how rare a case like this is for the department, the West Jordan Police Department is assisting with the investigation. The Utah Attorney General’s Office arrived in the neighborhood Saturday morning to construct a 3-dimensional picture of the crime scene to aid investigators in piecing together what happened.

Winkler said the incident has hit the community hard.

"The Daybreak community of South Jordan is a tight-knit community," he said. "There's a lot of families there. It's a bedroom community. And this has affected a lot more than the kids themselves, and the families themselves, and the persons that were there. This has really affected the entire community, and even the bordering areas where these kids might go to school."

Officials said the Jordan School District would have grief counselors available Monday for those impacted.

15 comments

  • Drerae

    I know the mother of one of the boys (since elementary). She is a great mom and my heart goes out to her and the rest of the family. This is an unspeakable tragedy of a life lost too soon, the loss of a child. I can’t imagine the pain she is feeling, being that I have two boys 14 and 12. It’s an unbearable pain, that only God, your children and family can get you through. My thoughts and prayers will be with them, for a long time to come.

      • MJ Brewer

        No one plans on dying, most times, but at this age it’s the furthest thing from our minds. It’s a curious predicament, but what in the world were boys of this age doing with three guns? Scary stuff.

        My heart goes out to anyone who finds himself in this situation because I know the haunting answers usually begin with “If only I…”

        My thoughts are with you and the rest of the family members at this time, praying you can remember the good accomplishments he performed during his short stay on Earth.

  • Susan Briggs

    Where did the guns come from??? They should have been locked up! What a tragedy. My prayers go to the family and friends.

  • Anna Peterson

    I’m so sad to hear all this. A lot of kids I go to school with are very upset and are now suicidal! I didn’t know the boys who got killed very well but I send my prayers to their families, on the other hand I do know the three other boys pretty well and they wouldn’t hurt anyone on purpose and they know better.

  • Charlé D Meier

    I am Taylor “Bug” Wheeler’s mom. We are planning a candlelight vigil for both boys tomorrow around 4:30 PM at Firmont Park which is right across the street from where it happened. Any(and every)one is welcome and we need all the love and support we can get 2 help each other through this terrible tragedy. So if you can, please come. And if you can’t please keep us in your thoughts and prayers! Thank you, c

  • Ken Jensen

    I’m am so sorry for what ever happened but when I was a kid we groew up with gun and we respected them and was trained with them all the time. This could of happened to any one of use when we groew up. My prayers are with the family’s and hope others will learn from this tragity. Please teach your kids to respect these guns. They are tools. Just like a car tractor or even a knife. They all have to be treated with respect. Please don’t blame the gun. God bless all of you!

  • Jacki Clements

    Dear Charlé, I am a dear friend of Liz Wangerin, Kyle’s Grandmother. She told me of your Tragedy when I was at her home on Sunday, she was so upset and was telling what a wonderful child Taylor is. I just want to send you prayers. She also sent the link on Facebook on how people can donate to help with expenses. I cannot even imagine your pain. I know we’ve never met, but I feel I know you through Liz, she always talks of you and your children so fondly. My deepest sympathies to your entire family and I know Kyle want to be strong for you. Taylor’s picture looks like a precious boy. Hugs and prays to you. Sincerely, Jacki Clements

  • Kristy

    I am so.. sorry to hear what happened to the young boys, Yet they are not here you can know that
    No one can take away the wonderful memories that you parents will treasure in your hearts my heart goes out to your families its so hard to believe this stuff would happen but it did I am just so sorry to hear this tradegy news

  • Karli

    So what really happened? I life how Fox News just dropped this, but I want to know, mother of a 12 yearold and sister to a brother whom shot himself at 18

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