Authorities say 16-year-old Colin Jeffrey Haynie shot and killed his mother and youngest sibling first, and then lay in wait for the rest of his family to come home before shooting them too. When it was all over, the Grantsville, Utah teen’s mother and three siblings were dead, and his father was wounded in the leg.
The family massacre in Grantsville, Utah unfolded in stages over a five-hour time period, authorities say.
They allege that Colin stayed home from school before unleashing mayhem on his family for reasons they still don’t know, shooting some of his family members multiple times in the head. The father survived the bloodbath.
“This happened over a five hour period, piece by piece by piece by piece. This wasn’t one horrific act all occurring in one minute,” said Tooele County Attorney Scott Broadhead, according to KSL. Broadhead said the homicides were not a case of “I snapped.” The motive is not clear because Haynie hasn’t spoken with police.
For days, police withheld Colin’s name, but then came news that authorities were going to charge Colin as an adult in court. There were seven members of the Haynie family of Grantsville, Utah on the morning of January 17, 2020. By nightfall, there were only three. The youth is also known as CJ Haynie; his father is also named Colin Haynie.
Police named the victims as:
Consuelo Alejandra Haynie, 52
Alexis Haynie, 15
Matthew Haynie, 14
Milan Haynie, 12
The father, Colin Haynie, 50, who has been released from the hospital.
The family tragedy has galvanized the community, which has surrounded the surviving family members with support, holding a vigil, and raising thousands of dollars through a Facebook fundraiser. The family was deeply religious on social media, and those who knew them described them as kind and giving and a “well-loved” family in the area. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, it was Utah’s worst mass shooting since 2007.
The teen is being tried as an adult because that’s mandated by Utah laws since he’s 16 or older and accused of murder.
“Criminal charges have been filed against Colin Jeffrey (CJ) Haynie, age 16, for the killing of his mother, Alejandra, and his three siblings, Alexis, Mathew, and Maylan, as well as for the attempted killing of his father, Colin. CJ Haynie has been charged with four counts of Aggravated Murder, one count of Attempted Murder, and five counts of Felony Discharge of a Firearm in the Third District Court in Tooele County,” the district attorney said in a news release. (in the family’s obituary the siblings’ names are spelled Matthew and Milan.)
Meanwhile, in Alabama, in an unrelated incident, another 16 year old boy stands accused of stabbing his mother and two siblings to death. You can read about that family tragedy here.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. A Surviving Brother Once Wrote That the ‘Greatest Gift’ the Parents Gave the Siblings ‘Was Each Other’
One sibling wasn’t home during the attack and was thus unharmed. His name is Danny Haynie, and he’s in college. Danny’s Instagram page is full of photos of the sibling group, and some of them include CJ. They present a heartbreaking picture of a tight-knit, loving family before something went terribly wrong.
Police haven’t specified a motive, and they say the suspect is refusing to talk to them.
“Happy Birthday to my lil (Big) Brother CJ!” Danny Haynie wrote 80 weeks ago, sharing a photo of the brothers together to his Instagram page. “Can’t believe you’re already 15 bud, stop growing up! You’re already taller than me, so stop.”
A screenshot of an old Facebook post, no longer visible on Danny’s page, praises his brother’s “work ethic” and says “you’re gonna go places in life.”
In another post a couple years ago, he wrote, “The greatest gift our parents gave us was each other,” sharing a picture of all the siblings.
Danny called his siblings his “best friends” in another post. “Had a fun day at the Aquarium with my amazing family. Look at my mini-mes. They are growing up. Love my siblings! They’re definitely my best friends.” Another post showed the family hiking together. “…In the end we helped push each other and we all made it to the top. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten,” he wrote. Two years ago, he wrote on Instagram, “There are no words to describe how proud I am of my little brother. He ran his very first 5K and we both won our age divisions and took 2nd and 3rd overall ?”
Neighbor Laurie Bahe told Fox 13: “There have been a lot of tears shed on our street. It’s really sad and shocking, and just a very terrible situation.” She described the children as “quiet, shy, intelligent and kind,” according to the television station, which added that the kids were known to help their neighbors with yard work.
“I just can’t believe that it happened,” she said to the television station. “I feel terrible for that family.”
Bahe told Deseret News that the family was “happy” and “outgoing” and always made neighborhood block parties.
The community has rallied around Danny and his father, who survived the attack.
A fundraiser has already raised more than $94,000 on Facebook by January 19, 2020. You can donate to help the surviving Haynie family members here. “This is absolutely heart breaking ? Please help if you’re able,” a woman wrote on that page. A candlelight vigil was held for the Haynie family on January 20.
That fundraiser, by Patty Deakin-Daley, who runs a well-known Facebook group used by community members, is titled, “Funeral and Medical Expenses for the Haynie Family…Fundraiser for Danny Haynie.”
“A local family suffered a great loss this weekend,” Deakin-Daley wrote on the fundraiser page. “A Mom and her 3 minor children were killed and the Father was hospitalized in Critical condition. The family now has to pay the very expensive funeral and medical expenses related to this tragedy. There will be many expenses that will come up including having the home cleaned, repaired and made to feel like a home again. As a loving community, there has been many that have asked what can be done. This is the very best place to start. Thank you in advance for any donations, kind words, or up lifting messages that are sent. They are very much appreciated.”
2. Authorities Believe Colin Jeffrey Haynie Killed His Family in Stages
Horrifically, authorities believe that Colin killed his mother and Milan first, at 1 p.m., and then waited until his other two siblings came home before killing them too. At around 6:15 p.m., the father arrived home and told police that his son shot him in the leg.
“Grantsville Police entered the home and found the bodies of the defendant’s mother and his three younger siblings. Based on witness interviews, the defendant’s mother picked up defendant’s 12-year-old sister, Maylan, from school at about 1:00 p.m. The defendant murdered his mother and Maylan not long after they returned home by firing multiple rounds from a handgun into their heads, necks, and/or upper bodies,” the DA’s news release said.
“At approximately 2:00 p.m., 15-year-old sister, Alexis, came home from school. Sometime between her arrival home and 5:17 pm, the defendant murdered Alexis. She died from multiple gunshot wounds to her head and upper body. Based on witness interviews, at 5:17 p.m., 14-year-old brother, Mathew, arrived at home. Mathew died of a single gunshot wound to the head.”
About an hour later, the father arrived home.
“The defendant’s father was interviewed by law enforcement. He said that when he arrived at the family home at around 6:15 p.m., the defendant shot him in the leg. A struggle ensued and the defendant’s father was hit in the head with an unknown object, causing a laceration. The defendant’s father was able to get the handgun away from him. He said that the defendant told him that his mother and other siblings were dead and that his intention was to kill everyone in the house except himself,” the release alleges.
Rhonda Fields, the public information officer for Grantsville PD, said in a January 20 press conference that, at 7 p.m., officers were dispatched to the home. Officers arrived and discovered four deceased persons.
“They are five members of the same family,” she said. “A mother and three children were found deceased inside the home.” She said the suspect has “refused to speak with investigators” and is part of the same family.
The Deseret News site previously reported that “police have confirmed all victims found dead in the 93 Eastmoor Drive home were all related.” In a news conference, police earlier confirmed that the deceased victims were an adult female and three juveniles, two females and one male.
The teen is accused of shooting the five people inside the family’s home in Grantsville, a Salt Lake City, Utah suburb. Fields, the police spokeswoman, told The Salt Lake Tribune that “all the victims lived together at the home,” but the suspect “is not speaking with police.” She added that a handgun was used in the homicides and that the police were waiting for “formal identification” from the medical examiner’s office.
News of the mass shooting broke on the evening of January 17, 2020. Grantsville is located about 35 miles from Salt Lake City. The community has a population of less than 10,000 people and is located in the Salt Lake City, Utah Metropolitan Statistical Area.
The suspect was driven to the hospital with the surviving victim (the wounded dad) by another unidentified person who is a neighbor. It all added up to “a lot of confusion, a lot of questions and unknowns,” said Fields. She believes the suspect and surviving victim went to the hospital together in addition with a third person who arrived after the shooting and hasn’t been named.
“We need to establish a timeline for the course of events for the entire day to get a starting point… a clear picture of what’s taking place today,” she said.
She said there was no police history to the house. “It makes it a little more difficult to try to piece things together” especially within hours of the incident, Fields said.
3. The Deaths Have Broken Hearts Throughout the Community & Extended Family; Some Mourners Offered Support for the Suspect
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, some people at a vigil offered support for the teenage suspect. “Because it sounds like that’s somebody that really needs to be loved,” said Diane Passey, one of the mourners who spoke to the crowd, the newspaper reported.
Tooele County School District wrote on Facebook that it was “deeply saddened and shocked to hear of the events that occurred last night in Grantsville. We want to express our sincere condolences to those who have been impacted by this tragic situation.”
The district added: “It is important that we stand together to care for and support each other through this difficult time. The District crisis team has been working to ensure students and staff will have counseling services in the Grantsville area, as well as in schools throughout Tooele County School District. Services will be available on Tuesday, January 21. We will provide more information as it becomes available.”
Natalie Ipson, the community relations manager at BYU, shared the Haynie fundraiser page and wrote on Twitter, “It has been a horrific weekend for the idyllic neighborhood of my youth. Eastmoor Drive will always feel like home and its neighbors like family, including the friends just a few doors down who have gone through the unthinkable.”
The Grantsville mayor said in a press conference, “We appreciate the outpouring of support from our loving community and the surrounding area. Our hearts go out to the families, loved ones and close-knit neighborhood affected by this emotional tragic incident.”
Megan Haynie Cowley shared the fundraiser page and wrote on Facebook, “I’ve struggled to write this post all day. ? Prayers and donations for my uncle and cousin would be so appreciated. Friday evening, our cousins and aunt were taken from us in a shooting incident. Our uncle was injured but is stable and his oldest son, who was not there, is with him now.”
She continued, “We still have so many questions and don’t know all the details, but I ask everyone to PLEASE be understanding and kind with your words. It can be so easy to want to blame someone and let that take over but as more information comes out, we ask that everyone remember that it is not for us to judge. We are absolutely heartbroken by this loss and are so grateful for the time we were able to spend with our cousins and aunt this past month at a family reunion. The best way to help our family now is helping them prepare for the overwhelming funeral costs and medical bills they will face, among other things. Hug your loved ones tighter tonight and tell them how much you love them ?.”
4. The Family Members, Who Were Part of the LDS Community, Were Remembered as Showing by Example ‘How to Serve’ & Love Others
The family’s obituary gives this information about each victim:
“Alejandra Haynie was raised in Chihuahua, Mexico on May 8, 1967. She was a loving mother to her children and loved to prepare delicious meals and desserts. She also loved to garden and care for her fruit trees. She was always willing to help out and serve people in the ward and the community.
Alexis was born in Bountiful, Utah on September 9, 2004. She was a freshman at Grantsville High School and was the goalie on the High School Girls’ Junior Varsity Soccer team. Alexis was an accomplished artist and loved to play the piano. Other interests included The Lord of The Rings and playing with her siblings and friends.
Matthew Haynie was born in Bountiful, Utah on October 18, 2005. He was in the 8th grade at Excelsior Junior High and was well liked by his teachers and peers. He enjoyed playing soccer, wrestling, playing chess and anything to do with Star Wars and gaining the ‘high ground.’
Milan Haynie was born in Bountiful Utah on April 5, 2007. She was in the 7th Grade at Excelsior Junior High. She wanted to be an engineer, enjoyed playing soccer, volleyball and creating art with her sister, taking a specialized interest in super heroes. She liked to leave loving and encouraging notes signed ‘from so and so.'”
The family was beloved in many circles. A man who shared the fundraiser page on Facebook wrote, “The Haynie family lived just a couple doors down from where I grew up in Grantsville and were very close to our family. This tragic event has really affected my family, for multiple reasons. They have always been so kind and giving to us, always showing us by example how to serve and love your neighbors and friends.”
On Facebook, the parents used a joint Facebook page called Alex and Colin Haynie. “He knows your name and he knows your need,” says the religious graphic that is their profile picture. The family belonged to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, according to social media posts and The Salt Lake Tribune.
“There are no words to describe our heartbreak and grief,” Jason Killian, a stake president with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said in a statement to Deseret News and Fox 13. “We are devastated and so deeply saddened by what has occurred. We love this family, and will support them and the rest of our small community as we mourn together.”
On Instagram, Danny posted a tribute to his mom on Mother’s Day, writing that she was a “wonderful mother who has always been there for me no matter what.” He also posted a tribute to both parents, writing previously, “October 3rd is a very special day in the Haynie Family. Tis the date that my wonderful mother and father got married ? I’m so thankful and feel so blessed to have such wonderful parents. Thank you guys for all that you do! ‘One of the greatest titles in the world is parent, and one of the biggest blessings in the world is to have parents to call mom and dad.'”
Colin Haynie, the father, once started an LLC called Launch Team 58, but it was dissolved.
In 2018, the parents’ page wrote, “Love this and need this today. President Uchtdorf Shares Short, Powerful Message: The Lord knows you. He knows your heart and is pleased with your sacrifice. He smiles upon you each day. He will uphold you and prepare the way for you. He will send His angels before you. You will feel their presence…” According to a church website, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf “was called as second counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on February 3, 2008.”
A 2017 post by the family read, “We don’t have to walk alone, I know that my Savior lives! I know at the times when I feel most lonely I can turn to him and I know he will be there by the power of the Holy Ghost!”
The parents’ likes included LDS videos and the Book of Mormon. The father has a pilot’s license.
Colin Haynie has a confusing Kickstarter campaign from 2013 that is still visible online. The campaign said, “Colin L Haynie is raising funds for The Hardly Can Romance – Hardback Campaign on Kickstarter!”
That page explains, “The Hardly Can Romance – Hardback Campaign. Even though Hardly Can hardly can, Hardly can. Can you? What is it you romance? What is your ‘Hardly Can’ project?”
The father’s Kickstarter page has a video that contains a rambling explanation of the project. In the video, Colin Haynie, standing in front of scenes of space, says he’s the author who was behind “Hardly Can Romance” and the engineer behind Launch Team 58.
He described other “Hardly Can” projects, which he said can relate to parenting or relationships. He explained the concept as ideas people want to achieve but “hardly can.” “Hardly can is part a 66-page poem anonymously signed with an X as if from a secret admirer; it’s an icebreaker that led to a romance,” he explains.
“So to help me launch the school I am creating a similar autonomous robot music group to generate publicity and help me inspire students, but I hardly can. So I created Launch Team 58 to develop the tools and technologies for the music group. It started out slowly but hardly, that would be me, can and is. The Hardly Can romance is one of the Launch Team 58 sub projects… I am hoping I can generate publicity for my music project.”
5. The Suspect’s Brother Found Out About the Slayings on Social media
Danny Haynie, the surviving son who wasn’t home at the time of the attack, wrote on Facebook that his dad was the wounded victim, writing, “UPDATE: I am with my father at the hospital and he is in Stable Condition. I just want to thank you all for your prayers and your support toward me and my dad. All I can ask is for your continued support and prayers. Seriously, thank you all.” Horrifically, he wrote earlier: “Anyone in Grantsville know is going on??? I can’t get ahold of my family and they live on the street where the shooting happened.”
Danny also wrote, “Dispatch wouldn’t tell me, even when I gave them the name. I pretty much had to piece it together, based on what everyone was telling me. But I’m on my way up now.”
A man wrote on Facebook, “Please keep Danny Haynie and his dad in your prayers.”
Danny Haynie says on Facebook that he is 24 and studies at UVU.
He also wrote about his family tragedy on Twitter, writing, “Not looking forward to people using this to try and push their political agendas…especially when they don’t have all the true facts. And no, media members, I will not giving you guys the ‘juicy deets’ for your articles…”
He added: “Always keep your loved ones close to you, my friends. Always let them know that you love them, even if it seem redundant. You never know when your last interaction with someone might be your last….Thank you all for the support. Please keep my Dad in your prayers and thoughts.”
Danny also wrote, “It seems like the Tribune and others already got the news and the address before I did so. I found out through the news and on social media first. I didn’t get the official word until hours later.”
Gov. Gary Herbert tweeted about the tragedy, writing, “Our hearts are broken by the horrible news coming out of Grantsville tonight,” he said. “We mourn over the loss of innocent lives.” Again, it’s not clear who placed the call or drove the father to the hospital.
READ NEXT: The Todt Family Murders in Florida.