SALT LAKE CITY — A Salt Lake City man accused of killing his estranged wife and trying to kill his teenage daughter last month has been formally charged.
According to documents filed in the 3rd District Court on Friday, Walter Eugene Brantzeg, 54, is charged with one count of aggravated murder, one count of attempted aggravated murder and one count of aggravated burglary – all first-degree felonies – in connection with the August 22 incident.
Unified Police responded to River Bend Apartments, near 850 W and 3900 S in Millcreek, shortly after 7 o’clock that morning.
Investigators say Brantzeg used a crowbar to bludgeon both Valerie Sue Brantzeg and their 13-year-old daughter, resulting in Valerie’s death.
A preliminary investigation by the State of Utah Office of the Medical Examiner determined Valerie’s cause of death of multiple blunt force injuries, primarily to her head.
The girl remains hospitalized.
Unified Police said Walter Brantzeg surrendered to detectives after leaving the scene of the assault and calling several media outlets, including FOX 13. Brantzeg’s call to FOX 13 was placed shortly after 9 a.m. on August 22, about two hours after Unified Police received a 9-1-1 call about the incident.
In a conversation with one of FOX 13’s news managers, Brantzeg confessed to killing his estranged wife over a custody dispute. Brantzeg also explained how he tried to kill his 13-year-old daughter. The call ended when Brantzeg told our employee that police had arrived to arrest him.
During an interview on August 28, Brantzeg’s 13-year-old daughter told a detective that Brantzeg had sexually assaulted her and threatened to kill her and separate her family if she told anyone, according to the indictment.
During a news conference Friday Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill explained that charges related to the sexual assault allegations have not been filed because that is a separate investigation.
“Like any investigation, if there is sufficient evidence and, once it’s presented from our detectives to us, we will do what is appropriate with that. If charges are warranted, we will absolutely file those charges and pursue those charges as a separate prosecution,” Gill said.
Brantzeg has also been charged with a class A misdemeanor count of aggravated cruelty to an animal.
“[Brantzeg] also admitted that he killed his cat because no one would be around to feed it,” an indictment against Brantzeg said.
On Friday, Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera said the case is one of the most horrific domestic violence cases she has seen during her 25-year career in law enforcement.
“We would like to send a message out there: If you are in a situation where you may fear for your life or you’re just not sure […] if it could turn violent, we want you to call us,” Rivera said. “We want you to know that we are there. We are here to help you and we don’t want something like this to happen again.”
Support is available 24/7 in Utah for those dealing with domestic violence. Visit the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition online or call 1-800-897-5465 for resources and assistance. In an emergency, dial 911.