In September of 2014, a Utah teen returned to his home to find his parents and three siblings dead. “In a notebook, a ‘to-do list’ had been scribbled on the pages … The list looked as if the parents were readying to go on vacation—items such as ‘feed the pets’ and ‘find someone to watch after the house’ were written,” The Salt Lake Tribune reported. It appeared to be murder-suicide, but there was no suicide note, no prior indication that they would do this, no explanation. Police could not figure out why two parents would kill themselves and three of their four children.
For a year, no one knew exactly what happened to the family, or what would drive the parents to do something so unthinkable. In January, police released more chilling details in the case. According to accounts from family members and an investigation by police, the parents were driven by a belief that the apocalypse was coming and an obsession with a convicted killer. As the Washington Post reported:
Friends and family told police that the parents were worried about the “evil in the world” and wanted to escape a “pending apocalypse.” But most assumed they just wanted to move somewhere “off the grid.” Investigators also found letters written by Kristi Strack to one of the state’s most infamous convicted killers, Dan Lafferty, who was convicted in the 1984 fatal stabbing of his sister-in-law and her 1-year-old daughter. According to trial testimony, he killed the victims at the order of his brother, Ron Lafferty, who claimed to have had a revelation from God. The story became a book called “Under the Banner of Heaven.”
Police said Kristi Strack became friends with Dan Lafferty, and she and her husband even visited him in prison.