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5-year-old girl may be key witness to mother’s death in Magna

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Posted at 9:15 PM, Jun 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-02 00:22:50-04

MAGNA, Utah -- A five-year-old girl could be a key witness in a homicide investigation in Magna involving the young girl's own mother.

Natalia Casagrande was found dead in the basement of her Magna home on Tuesday. Her 1-year-old and 5-year-old daughters were also home at the time.

According to a family member, the 5-year-old had choke marks around her neck and a pillow over her face. She is expected to be OK.

"I hope that the child didn't see anything terrible, but that's something [investigators] can look into," Lt. Lex Bell of the Unified Police Department said.

"I can't imagine that somebody would be so cold-hearted and heartless to do this in front of her babies," a neighbor, who asked not to be identified, said.

That neighbor was gardening  nearby when she noticed the presumed killer pull into the driveway and leave a short time later. For the neighbor, it didn't seem out of the ordinary.

"I saw a white car pull into the garage, I heard some glass break, I didn't think anything of it, I've hit things in my garage before," the neighbor said. "I kept pulling weeds, I didn't even think to see who was in the car."

The next thing the neighbor noticed was Natalia's husband coming home about 45 minutes later.

"Then he comes out and he is screaming, 'Call the police, call the paramedics, my wife has been shot!' and he had blood all over his hands and his arms and stuff,'" the neighbor said.

The neighbor immediately called 911. She said the situation became too much to handle once she saw Natalia's daughters being carried from the home.

"The babies were just screaming 'Mommy, mommy,"' she said.

The neighbor said there's no doubt in her mind that this was personal.

"One of the little kids kept saying 'it was,' using a nickname," she said.

Natalia's family didn't want to speculate on the homicide. They did say she was an amazing woman with so much to give.

"Very funny, very outgoing, very social, really was developing into an amazing artist and really developing those talents and pursuing that," said uncle Jason Fry.

Fry said everyone who knew Natalia will miss Natalia.

"She was a great woman and a great mom with a big heart full of love, lots of energy toward her family," Fry said.