“Benson was aware that he may die, and was bequeathing his personal possessions to his friend.”
The cause of death for a five member Utah family found in their home last September has been ruled as suicide, CNN reports, after authorities concluded an extensive investigation of the incident. Specifically, parents Benjamin and Kristi Strack are believed to have taken the lives of their three children by giving them large quantities of drugs to include methadone, a drug used in heroin replacement therapy, and diphenhydramine, a drug found in over-the-counter antihistamines. “Beside each body, there were cups with liquid inside.”
Just as shocking, though, was the reason the Strack’s killed their children and then themselves.
According to a statement released by J. Scott Finlayson, chief of police for Springville, the parents had bought into “a concern about a pending apocalypse.”
From interviews with friends and relatives of the Strack family, the statement said, “it became fairly apparent that the topic of ‘leaving’ this world was a fairly common theme.”
It added, “While some friends thought that suicide may have been, or could have been included in their plans, others believed they were going to move somewhere and live off the grid.”
Tragically, the parents chose the former option, police believe, and took their children with them.
However, both parents appeared to have been heroin users in the past with the father, Benjamin Strack, using a toxic level of heroin to take his own life and Kristi Strack being on methadone therapy herself.
One son survived the family and discovered them all dead in their home with his girlfriend. He promptly called 911. The phone call is very difficult to hear (located here) but seems to show how surprised he was that this had happened even as another son, 14-year-old Benson, appears to have expected he might die soon.
…one note was found apparently written by Benson to a friend, “which indicated that Benson was aware that he may die, and was bequeathing his personal possessions to his friend,” the police statement said.
“This was the only letter or note found that gave any indication that family members knew what may transpire in the home.”
It was this note that led investigators to conclude that Benson might have known that he was going to die, having been heavily influenced by his parents’ apocalyptic beliefs, and could have agreed to the plan.
As of this writing, the surviving son has issued no statement to the media.
An even stranger twist to this story is that both Benjamin and Kristi Strack had a very real connection to notorious Utah serial killer Dan Lafferty, subject of the book “Thou Shalt Kill” by Jon Krakauer. Per KSL out of Utah, visitation records show that the Strack’s visited Lafferty quite a few times in prison up until 2008. Both Dan Lafferty and his brother Ron were Mormon fundamentalists who believe that God told them to kill family members “so that his work might go forward.”
Dan Lafferty, currently on death row, expressed grief when he heard of the death of the Stracks.