Man’s parents say emotional emptiness led to murder-suicide — (Pennsylvania News Record)

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Pennsylvania News Record

Sunday, August 13, 1995

North Hills, Pennsylvania – Wells said most cases involve a escalation of violence, but many others — such as the Utzes’ — do not. The family said there was never any physical abuse, a belief backed up by Police Chief Rudy Vojtko. A review of police records showed no history of domestic abuse calls at the Utz home. That makes the family’s search for answers more frustrating. The family will never be free of this, but it will get better,” she said. Roy Utz grew up going to a Methodist church, where Fifi Utz played the organ every Sunday for 44 years But after returning from Pennsylvania State University, where he earned a degree in political science, he never returned to regular church services — until recently. But by then, the emotional hole in which Roy Utz saw himself was simply too deep, Chuck and Fifi Utz believe.  When asked how others in situations similar to Roy Utz’s could avoid the same fate, Chuck Utz said quickly, “Go to church ” Through tears, Fifi Utz added, “Find a higher power to help you ”

In fact, Roy and Jan Utz sought counseling for their marital problems — individually and together. But in time, Roy Utz became convinced it was hopeless. Several weeks before he ended their lives, Jan Utz, 42, filed for divorce. “I sat on the sofa one night with his head in my lap, and he just sobbed,” Fifi Utz said breathlessly “He always said, “You know, I still love her.”

The kids were Roy Utz’s biggest concern. Ryan, 14, and Jamie, 9. “My heart aches for them,” Fifi said. But Roy Utz also felt he was losing grip on the things he worked to achieve, including a home in the affluent Karrington Woods development in Pine. The home, with a large deck and 36-foot, heated indoor swimming pool designed by Roy Utz, is about two miles from his parents’ home. It will be put up for sale, the Utzes said. The children are staying with relatives. Each of the past three years, Roy Utz made the pool available to kids in winter, arranging lessons with an instructor from the YMCA. Roy Utz owned Hub Cap City auto dealership in Wexford. Jan Utz, also a North Hills native, was very accomplished. She was a nursing instructor at West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh and was a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing. Several years ago, Roy Utz began losing sleep. He resorted to sleeping pills on top of the anti-depressants. “I told him, ‘Roy, you can’t go on like this forever,’ ” Fifi Utz recalled. Something happened between Jamie’s soccer game the night of Aug 2 and the 2 30 a.m scuffle that woke Jamie from the next room. Roy Utz convinced her she was having a bad dream then sat on her bed soothing her until she fell asleep. Before the kids woke up, Roy Utz put Jan Utz’s body in the back of his father’s pickup truck which he had borrowed, drove to his parents’ house and closed the garage door.  Then he got into his car, turned on the engine and waited to die, leaving only a note and a family that understands the what but is struggling with the why.

Saturday, August 19, 1995

Opinion – I am writing in regard to the tragic murder/suicide of Roy and Janus Utz. I was a close friend of Janus and am appalled by your lack of acknowledgment of Janus’ life. Your paper has run several articles on how involved in the community Roy was and how much he will be missed. Janus is hardly mentioned. It seems that being the victim of a tragedy does not permit one to be acknowledged. I would like to acknowledge Jan’s life. Jan was a loving, caring, concerned mother. She also was a professional registered nurse with a master’s degree from Duquesne University.

Jan taught clinical nursing at the West Perm Hospital and the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing. From the time Jan’s two children were born to the day she died, her children were her main focus, and she had always been employed part time so that they could remain so. Jan was very concerned with Roy’s mental health during the last few months, and it was she who urged Roy to seek professional help. She also encouraged him to obtain antidepressant medication and expressed concern that the dosage was not sufficient to help him. She told me she had discussed this with him.  After much soul searching and counseling. Jan filed for divorce This is not a reason for murder. Jan was a colleague and a friend of mine. The students loved her because she treated them with respect and consideration. She was a respected, competent nurse and instructor of nursing.  Above all, she was a sincere supportive friend. We enjoyed many pleasant times together, and I always found Jan willing to listen with a nonjudgmental ear.

While quiet and unassuming, she touched the lives of many people.”from her children to her family to her patients to her students to her colleagues and to me. While maybe not as public as Roy’s. Jan’s life also was important, and she deserves respect and praise One doe? not meet many people on life’s road like Jan. We were not given a chance lo say goodbye to Jan or tell her how much she meant to us. Goodbye Jan; you will be missed.  Mane Sandvig, Murrysville