Police hope toxicology reports will provide answers into mysterious deaths
Credit: Laura Seitz/AP Photo

Five members of a family of five who were found dead in their Springville, Utah, home last weekend, had likely gathered in the parents’ upstairs bedroom to watch a movie on their big-screen television – something they apparently did frequently as a close-knit family, according to friends.

Now, as authorities wait for answers from toxicology reports – a process that will take up to six weeks – Benjamin Stack, 37, his wife, Kristi, 36, and three of their children, Benson, 14, Emery, 12, and Zion, 11, were remembered at a candlelit vigil Thursday night at Pioneer Park in nearby Provo.

“I don’t know the Stracks personally, but they just seem like a good family and I can’t imagine what their loved ones are going through,” said the vigil’s organizer, Emily Stone, 38, of Provo. “It’s so shocking what’s happened and nobody seems to have any answers. I just felt compelled to do something.”

The Stracks were found by an older son, Janson McGee, 18, when he stopped by their duplex on Sept. 27, concerned that he hadn’t heard from them. A preliminary autopsy showed that the family wasn’t killed by violent assault, and firefighters didn’t find any trace of carbon monoxide in the home. Some doors in the house may have been left open, say police, and a ferret and two cats were found alive inside the house.

“It’s an unknown at this point,” said Lt. David Caron with the Springville Police Department. “We’re all waiting somewhat impatiently for the toxicology report. Until we get that back, it’s a mystery.”

Gathered in Main Bedroom

Caron said that several family members were found on the parents’ bed, while others were on the floor. “It’s my understanding that they gathered in the main bedroom quite a bit to watch movies on the big-screen TV,” he said, “although the TV wasn’t on when I got to the house. Did they get up and turn it off, fell asleep, then something happened? We just don’t know. But we’ve sent a great deal of evidence off to be analyzed to give us a picture of what happened.”

Extended family members plan to hold a private funeral for the Stracks and are not commenting about the deaths, other than releasing a statement at a Tuesday press conference.

“We are shocked and heartbroken by the sudden loss of so many members of our family,” said Bob McGee, an uncle of Janson McGee. “Events like this are difficult to understand and even harder to come to terms with. No words can adequately describe our feelings of grief and sorrow.”

Thanking the community for its support, McGee added, “Show those around you how much you love them. You never know when or if tragedy will strike. And you will never regret holding your loved ones closer or being kinder to those around you.”

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