Family speaks after Utah man allegedly kills father, injures grandparents

Posted at 6:08 PM, Jan 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-29 23:31:00-05

WEST VALLEY CITY - Paul Manning served in Vietnam and has dealt with his own battles in life, but he says nothing prepared him for what he dealt with last Tuesday.

"I had to walk over my wife's body, my son's body, and then took me to the ambulance," Manning said.

Manning was asleep in a West Valley City home with his wife, Elaine, when he was allegedly and suddenly stabbed by his grandson, 23-year-old Michael Vandemerwe.

"I just kept telling him, 'I love you, I love you,'" Manning said of his reaction as his grandson continued stabbing him at least four or five times.

Michael Vandemerwe faces two counts of attempted murder, one count of unlawful discharge of a firearm, and one count of murder. After the stabbing, Manning says he backed his way into the bathroom and shut the door while yelling for his wife, Elaine, to call police.

Manning doesn't know for sure, but investigators would later tell him that while he was in the bathroom, Vandemerwe would grab one of Manning's guns and shoot Michael's father, Greg Vandemerwe, and grandmother, Elaine, in the head. Greg Vandemerwe would die from his injuries, but Elaine remained breathing.

Manning says his injuries forced him to the floor on the other side of the bathroom door.

"Good thing, because he shot through the door and missed me," Manning said.

Michael then turned to walk out the front door as police were pulling up, and he ultimately surrendered to police without further incident.

Now, Paul's wife Elaine fights for her life at Intermountain Medical Center and is in critical condition and in a coma.

"She's breathing on her own, and with the help of a machine," said Elaine and Paul's niece, Carrie Vandemerwe.

The family has barely left Elaine's side since she was first admitted on Tuesday. Doctors have told the family that if Elaine is going to make it through, it could take months, and the best case scenario is that she'll be deaf and blind on one side.

"We need help. We need your prayers," said a tearful Paul Manning.

Finances are tough for the family, and Manning admits he doesn't know how they'll make it through. To top things off, Manning now has to consider how he'll plan for his step-son's funeral, and where he'll come up with the money. In the meantime, he's not leaving his wife's side.

"She's going to be here a while," he said. "She's all I got left."

Loved ones have created a GoFundME page to assist the family with medical and funeral expenses.

As for Michael Vandermerwe, "He's the least of my worries," Manning said. "I still love the guy, but I don't love him that much anymore."

Manning and his step-daughter Carrie both say they had tried to get Michael help for mental issues over the past year, and said he was diagnosed with depression.

"There's nothing you can do if they're an adult," Carrie Vandemerwe said of the situation.

She said the family was told that until Michael physically hurt someone, there wasn't much they could do. Still, the family offers this advice to anyone whose family member may be dealing with mental issues.

"Get help, please!" Manning said.

"Yes, get help," Vandemerwe echoed. "Do whatever you can. Scream if you have to, because this can happen to you."

Mental health resources are available here.