Z. Todd Staheli worked around the world as an executive for Shell Oil, and when Brazil became his next stop in 2003, his family moved to Rio de Janeiro. He and his wife Michelle were Utah natives, and she was a stay-at-home mom to their four children.
On a Sunday morning that November, their 10-year-old son heard an ignored, beeping alarm clock — set to awaken the Latter-Day Saint family for church — and went into his parents’ bedroom to check on them, The New York Times later reported.
He found them bludgeoned in their bed, bloodied and dying. His 3-year-old sister was asleep between them; she later told police she thought they were ’'dirty with mud,’' The Times said. Todd Staheli, 39, was pronounced dead there; Michelle, 36, who never regained consciousness, died in a hospital four days later.
The savagery of the killings, the mystery of how the assailant entered the high-security condominium and killed the Stahelis as their children slept without leaving any sign of a forced entry, and the lack of a clear motive grabbed international headlines. A handyman was eventually convicted, but valuables had been untouched and the Stahelis’ Utah relatives told reporters they questioned the official account of the crime.
Now the Stahelis’ children, as adults, are pursuing their own theory — they are suing the U.S. State Department for documents they believe will prove the murders were ordered by Petrobras, a Brazilian government-controlled oil and gas company headquartered in Rio de Janeiro.
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