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2 teens found dead in South Jordan home identified

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Posted at 11:09 AM, Nov 16, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-16 23:54:32-05

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.