Suspect formally charged in triple murder told police his mom, ‘made me do it’

Posted at 2:49 PM, Oct 01, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY -- Formal charges have been filed against the suspect in a triple homicide that was discovered after a welfare check was requested on a grandmother who didn't pick her son up from school at the appointed time, and court documents filed Thursday indicate the suspect made several unusual statements, including a claim that his mother, "made me do it."

The murders occurred on September 18, and the victims are 50-year-old Heike Poike, her 2-month-old granddaughter Lyrik Poike, and a 28-year-old man named Dakota Smith. Police went to the home after Heike Poike didn't pick up her 8-year-old grandson from school that afternoon.

Alexander Hung Tran was found inside the home after officers knocking at the door received no answer and went around back to find a door there open. According to court documents filed Thursday, Tran faces three counts of criminal homicide/aggravated murder.

The document states that when police entered the home, they located the three victims in an upstairs living room.

Tran was in the basement of the home, and he told officers, "I'm putting down the gun," according to the declaration of probable cause. Officers then arrested Tran without incident.

The man made several statements at that time, including asking officers: "If I think this is my mom's fault and that she should be here instead, is there anything I can do?"

He also stated: "She made me do it. I'm not saying that I didn't do it."

Police spoke with Tran's mother, who told them she had purchased the home where the bodies were found for her son earlier that month. Tran told her that a man, woman and two children were staying in the upstairs portion of the home, and she reportedly told Tran she did not want other people in the home.

Tran told his mother the people would not leave, so the woman instructed her son to tell the people to go and said she would start the eviction process. On the day of the alleged murders, Tran allegedly called his mother around noon and told her the people in the upstairs portion of the home were gone.

Officers recovered a .22-caliber handgun on the floor near Tran, and there were spent .22 casings in the upstairs living room. An autopsy determined all three individuals died of multiple gunshot wounds and that the manner of death was homicide.

Neighbors told FOX 13 the day after the incident there had been indications Tran was in distress and perhaps needed help.

"For instance, last month [Tran] 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," neighbor Anntanika Acres told FOX 13 September 19.