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Community mourns teen victim in alleged murder-suicide

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Posted at 6:12 PM, Sep 11, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-11 20:12:44-04

BRIGHAM CITY, Utah – A community is grieving the loss of a 16-year-old girl who police said was murdered by her step-father in an apparent murder-suicide.

Investigators said 45-year-old Michael Woodruff shot Alix Norman after she came home from school Tuesday, and then he turned the gun on himself.

Those who knew Alix said she will be remembered as a quiet, shy girl who was very talented and was just beginning to come into her own. Teachers at Box Elder Middle School spoke fondly of the teen.

“She was darling; she will be remembered,” said Shelley Smyka, who was Alix’s art teacher.

Alix’s language arts teacher, Shannon Cheney, said Alix was a unique individual.

“[She was] an interesting person too, which you don't always find at a middle school age,” she said. “A lot of times, especially girls, want to be like everybody else, and she wasn't like that. She wanted to be who she was, and that was refreshing.”

Alix would often spend all night drawing, and her teachers said her talent seemed effortless. However, Smyka said the teen would sometimes toss her art in the trash, but she said the teen didn't know that Smyka was saving the pieces.

“I would just look at it, and I would think, ‘You can't throw this stuff away,’” she said. “One day I approached her and said, ‘Alix, why are you throwing away these terrific drawings, don't you like them?’ And she said, ‘...I know when I go home, I can create more.'"

Matt Williams was Alix’s technology engineering teacher, and he said he could never imagine something like this would happen.

“It's sad because bad things happen to good people, and that's exactly what I feel happened to Alix,” he said.

Rhonda Long is one of the family’s neighbors, and she said Michael Woodruff sometimes seemed unapproachable.

“You couldn't always tell what he was thinking,” Long said. “He would get this look sometimes where it was like, maybe I won't ask him anything right now.”

The shooting remains under investigation, but police said so far they don’t know what the motive in the shooting was.