Neighbors say there were signs suspect in triple homicide needed help

Posted at 4:33 PM, Sep 19, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY -- The news of an alleged triple homicide has shaken an entire neighborhood in Salt Lake City, and a candlelight vigil for the victims is planned for Saturday at 8 p.m.

One neighbor said she witnessed the suspect, identified by police as Alexander H. Tran, demonstrating strange behavior for the past several weeks. She said there were obvious signs that he needed help.

"I was really surprised, but at the same time I knew something was going to happen, and I knew it was going to be something serious like this," said Anntanika Acres.

Acres walks past the home on Sir Phillips Drive, where the murders took place, on a daily basis. She has lived in this neighborhood for 11 years.

She said the victims in this case had just moved into the home about six months ago and were renting the upstairs portion of the residence. Tran was already renting the basement apartment when the family moved in.

Acres said she was always worried that Tran may try to enter her own property and possibly hurt someone in her family. She said he was known for irrational, intimidating behavior.

"For instance, last month he taped up his eyes closed and he laid on the roof and his parents came over to our house freaking out saying, 'We need to call the cops, he's been hurting himself, he's been chanting a lot, like evil stuff,' so just like very scary," she said.

Acres said police were called after that incident.

“When the parents came, they called the police, and I definitely think [the police] should have taken more action just to investigate more, and then maybe this wouldn’t have happened, I would say," Acres said.

The woman also spoke about the suspect.

“Hopefully he gets some help, cause I definitely feel like something is going on with him that he definitely needs some help," she said.

A candlelight vigil for the victims was held Saturday at 8 p.m. at 639 North Phillips Drive, where the homicides took place.

The deceased are identified as 50-year-old Heike Poike, 2-month-old Lyrik Poike, and 28-year-old Dakota Smith. Heike and Lyrik are the grandmother and sibling of an 8-year-old child who wasn't picked up from school as scheduled Friday, which is what initially prompted police to respond to the residence. It is not clear what, if any, relationship exists between Smith and the other victims or the suspect.

Police said Friday the 8-year-old boy was OK and was staying with relatives.

A previous version of this story erroneously stated Acres said she believed the suspect's family could have done more to potentially prevent the incident. FOX 13 News apologizes for the error.