Couple identified after letter to newspaper leads Logan police to apparent murder-suicide

Posted at 12:50 PM, Mar 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-11 23:54:20-05

LOGAN, Utah -- Logan City police said Friday that a letter sent to a local newspaper led officers to a home where two people were found dead, and the case is believed to be an apparent case of murder-suicide.

Later Friday night, police identified the deceased as a married couple: 82-year-old Dell Andrew Johnson and 73-year-old Mary Flynn Palley.

The Herald Journal reports the handwritten letter suggested a tragedy may have occurred or was about to occur, and the letter placed responsibility for the tragedy on several prominent members of the Cache Valley community.

A copy of a typed letter and a copy of a $1,000 check, both for the New York Times, were enclosed with the letter, the report said. The check for the New York Times was made out to the paper "for investigation into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," The Herald Journal reports.

While some information regarding the letter was made available to the media, the full contents are unknown. Police said the letter is part of their ongoing investigation, and as such the text will not be released at this time.

"It alluded to some concerns regarding The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it also had some concerns regarding government and some local business people here in the community," said Chief Gary Jensen of the Logan Police Department.

The Herald Journal published one line of the letter: "I took my wife ... with me because her advancing Parkinson's was robbing her of her mental faculties and filling her life with frustration and despair."

Police responded to the home, and Jensen  said as of now this appears to be a murder-suicide. Both people suffered apparent gunshot wounds.

"We believe at this time this is an apparent murder-suicide situation in which the man took the life of his wife and then subsequently took his own life," he said.

Jensen said they are still investigating the incident to determine exactly what transpired and why.

"At this point we're continuing to investigate, we're continuing to work on the whats and the whys," Jensen said. "There is a great deal of evidence and a great deal of investigative work still to be done."

Julie Jones, a family friend of the couple, said they were a "very good couple, very generous, very giving" and that the news is shocking.

Neighbor Dennis Hinkamp said Dell Johnson believed various conspiracy theories relating to the LDS Church.

"That's my impression of him, with, you know, the kind of stuff that he wanted me to look up and the newspaper clippings and stuff that he showed me," he said. "At least about this one issue he was a conspiracy theorist. I don't think he was like, a crazy UFO guy or anything."

Police said they weren't sure how long the two individuals had been dead for, but the letter sent to the newspapers indicated the tragedy would occur March 8.

FOX 13 News does not generally report on cases of suicide unless there is a greater impact to the public, such as in the case of a murder investigation and police response.