Probe of South Dakota deaths partly focused on financials

24 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Investigators Consider Finances In Family Killings.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — State investigators looking into an apparent murder-suicide involving a family of six are focusing in part on financial issues surrounding the husband, South Dakota’s attorney general said Wednesday. PLATTE — The unique circumstances surrounding last week’s events in Platte led law enforcement to do something equally unusual: make preliminary autopsy results public.Attorney General Marty Jackley says the investigation of the murder-suicide of the Westerhuis family is continuing, and investigators are looking into a possible financial motivation behind it. Authorities have said they believe Scott Westerhuis shot his wife and four children last week and then set the family home near Platte ablaze before shooting himself. And that’s why we’ve been up front with the public, as well as the community of Platte, with what we’ve found.” He spoke in reference to the events of Sept. 17, when Scott and Nicole Westerhuis, along with their four children, third-grader Kailey, fifth-grader Jaeci, eighth-grader Connor, and sophomore Michael, were found dead.

On Monday, the Attorney General’s Office released the family’s preliminary autopsy reports, which indicate that Nicole, Kailey, Jaeci, Connor and Michael Westerhuis died from shotgun wounds, a suspected homicide. He says state departments did not report any crimes. “When they do see matters of criminal concern, they typically turn that over to law enforcement. To answer those questions and quiet any fears of impending danger, Jackley and law enforcement decided to release the results. “We’ve reached a point with respect to this investigation, in large part with the help of a preliminary autopsy report, that we felt comfortable that we could indicate to the public that this is an isolated incident,” Jackley said.

That was not done in this case,” Jackley says. “We are trusting their work, but as part of this process we are verifying – so it’s a trust and verify. Community members have posted signs and tributes in honor of the Westerhuises throughout town, on vehicle windows, businesses and hay bales. “At this point, this has been a tragedy for the entire Platte community. The state Education Department decided not to renew the $4.3 million contract in the wake of a state audit last year that took issue with Mid-Central’s documenting of some expenses. Internal Revenue Service documents show two of those nonprofits, the American Indian Institute for Innovation and the Oceti Sakowin Education Consortium, have received at least $2 million between them in GEAR UP funding since 2012. One of the most time-consuming parts of the investigation will be going through the financial documents that were a part of the GEAR UP fund review by the South Dakota Department of Education and the South Dakota Department of Legislative Audit.

He also noted that when state departments suspect criminal activity, they inform law enforcement, and there had been no such notification in this instance. And we think it’s due diligence and prudent for us to look at that financial information, and as with any matter, we’ll go where the evidence leads us.” “There are certainly a lot of questions at this point. It’s going to be a thorough and due-diligent job of making sure we let other family members and the Platte community and South Dakota know as much as we can about what happened in Platte … in the early morning hours of Thursday morning and Wednesday evening.”

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