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By Pat Reavy
Published: Thursday, March 13 2014 6:45 p.m. MDT
Newly released reports provide clues and details, but few answers
Kyler Ramsdell-Oliva, 32, shot and killed her two daughters, Isabella, 7, and Kenadee, 13, in their Syracuse home on Jan. 14 before killing herself. Newly released police reports provide clues and details but don’t explain why the mother killed her daughters.
SYRACUSE — Kyler Ramsdell-Oliva, 32, once told her fiance that if she were to ever commit suicide, she would “get a gun” and take her two daughters with her.
The woman did just that on Jan. 14, shooting her two daughters, ages 13 and 7, before killing herself in their Syracuse home.
The tragic details of the double murder-suicide and the woman’s seemingly increased erratic behavior in the days just prior are detailed in newly released police reports obtained by the Deseret News through a public records request.
The woman was upset about a recent breakup with her fiance and argued with him during the days before, but the reports stop short of explaining why she would take the lives of her daughters Kenadee and Isabella.
The deaths weren’t discovered until that evening, after Ramsdell-Oliva’s ex-fiance and his family spent most of the day going in and out of the house helping him move out. They were unaware that the three bodies were lying behind the locked door of the woman’s bedroom.
Ramsdell-Oliva and Michael Johnson had been fighting the day before. She refused to talk to him, and he eventually decided it would be best if he moved out and lived with his sons from a previous marriage in Layton, a report states.
“Michael advised me that the tension between Kyler and his boys was too much” and that “he couldn’t handle the rules that Kyler was putting down in regards to his boys and felt that she was ruining his relationship with them,” a Syracuse police detective wrote.
It was during that argument that police were called. Johnson said he remembered leaving the house about 4:15 p.m. on Jan. 13. He continued texting Ramsdell-Oliva, however, after he left. She eventually stopped responding. He also monitored her Facebook posts that night in which she talked about their problems, until she eventually blocked him from her page, according to the report.
Ramsdell-Oliva’s sister told police she exchanged text messages with her about 6 p.m. That was the last contact she had with her sister.
The next day, Johnson arrived at the house at 9:30 a.m. to move his possessions out. He told police he knocked on her locked bedroom door several times to ask her to move her car, but no one replied. After he loaded his items into a U-Haul trailer and drove away, Johnson drove by the house again and noticed Ramsdell-Oliva’s car was still parked in the same spot where it had been all day, and there was only a single bathroom light on. At that time, he “just felt something was wrong,” a report states.
Johnson called his brother and Ramsdell-Oliva’s sister to go into the house and check on her. Johnson’s brother picked the bedroom door lock and discovered Ramsdell-Oliva’s body on the bedroom floor, which was partially blocking the door.
After informing Johnson of their discovery, Johnson “lost control and became very angry and emotional,” police wrote. When officers arrived, Johnson was observed in the driveway crying and yelling, “She had no right to do that to them!”
The bodies of Kenadee Oliva, 13, and Isabella Oliva, 7, were found lying on a single bed. Both had gunshot wounds to their chests, the report states. Their mother was found lying on the ground next to the bed. A black handgun and spent shell casings were recovered.
Where Ramsdell-Oliva obtained the weapon was not revealed in the reports. Johnson told police he had helped her move three times and had never seen a firearm in her house and did not believe that she owned one.
Autopsy results were not included in the reports that would have indicated whether Ramsdell-Oliva had any drugs or alcohol in her system at the time of the shootings.
A suicide note addressed to Ramsdell-Oliva’s sister was discovered that “described why Kyler shot the two juvenile females and took her own life,” but those details were not made public.
Johnson told police that his ex-fiance had attempted suicide a couple of times in the past “but was always able to get the help she needed,” a report states. He said he could usually tell when she was getting to that point, and would “go back to the doctors and get her medication adjusted.”
Johnson told police that he and Ramsdell-Oliva had problems off and on throughout their relationship. Just a few days before the shooting, the couple were driving and arguing about his boys when she “snapped and started screaming at him, pulling her hair and acting crazy,” a report states. Ramsdell-Oliva then rolled down the window, threw her wedding ring out the window, climbed into the backseat of the car and continued to scream and pull her hair.
Johnson compared the incident “to a small child throwing a temper tantrum.”
Johnson thought the situation was so bad that he drove to University Hospital. Ramsdell-Oliva calmed down, however, and the two talked in the car parked in front of the emergency room without ever going inside, he told police.
Johnson and Ramsdell-Oliva had not lived in the Syracuse house for very long. Kenadee, who was an eighth-grader at Syracuse Junior High School, had only been to school one day since moving into the area. Isabella, who was in first grade at Syracuse Elementary School, had been attending classes for about a week.
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Longtime friend says Syracuse mother in murder-suicide battled depression
By McKenzie Romero and Sandra Yi, Deseret News
Published: Thursday, Jan. 16 2014 10:05 p.m. MST
PRICE — When Pegi Butler heard that the woman she loved as a daughter was suspected of killing herself and her two girls, her heart broke.
“I just keep saying to myself, ‘Something terrible happened,'” Butler said. “It was something that happened instantly, something happened that overwhelmed her or just took her breath away to the point that she just felt like she didn’t have any other way to go. And I don’t know what that could have been.”
Police say Kyler Ramsdell-Oliva, 32, shot her two daughters, Kenadee Oliva, 13, and Isabella Oliva, 7, before killing herself in their Syracuse home Tuesday.
The 32-year-old mother had just broken up with her fiancé, Butler said Thursday as she reminisced sadly about the small family that had spent so much time in her Price home.
Butler met Ramsdell-Oliva when she was 18 years old and came to help as a home health aide when Butler’s daughter had a stroke. They grew close, confided in one another, even after Ramsdell-Oliva changed professions five years later.
“She was around the age of some of my children, so I was kind of more like a mom,” Butler said. “She would talk to me about things, cry about different things that were going on in her life. … It was really comfortable. She became just like part of the family.”
Ramsdell-Oliva brought her daughters to the house regularly. Butler recalls Kenadee taking her first steps, and she described Isabella as a sweet and talented little girl.
But through the years, Butler worried about the young woman she said was unique, innocent and trusted the wrong people.
“She would get caught up in things and then not know how to get herself out of certain situations with guys and things like that,” Butler said. “She just had a side of her that seemed like she was hurt. She would get hurt easily. But on the other side she was bubbly and happy.”
Over the past three years, Butler was hopeful Ramsdell-Oliva was conquering the depression she had fought through her youth, agreeing to participate in counseling and getting her life running smoothly. Part of that positive change, Butler said, was her fiancé.
“She was madly in love,” said Butler, who received text messages and pictures when the couple got engaged at Disneyland.
But when Ramsdell-Oliva talked to her on Sunday, something was wrong. Ramsdell-Oliva had told her fiancé to leave their home but confessed to Butler she still loved him deeply.
“She was very philosophical on Sunday. She said a few things … that kind of concerned me,” Butler said. “I would say she was heartbroken.”
When they finished talking, Butler never suspected Ramsdell-Oliva and the two girls were in danger. The conversation had ended on a positive note.
Since learning about the shooting, Butler hasn’t been able to shake the question all of Ramsdell-Oliva’s friends have been asking: Why?
“It’s just not Kyler,” she said. “If she was going to get upset, she would get upset at herself. She would never take it out on her daughters — never ever.”
Butler has a theory: Maybe Ramsdell-Oliva was worried about what would happen to her daughters if she left them behind, and perhaps she was afraid custody of the girls would fall to men she feared.
“I don’t think there’s anyone she really trusted to leave her children with,” Butler said. “It wouldn’t have been, ‘I’m doing this because I’m angry with my children,’ or, ‘I don’t want anyone else to have them,’ it would be more of a fear of what would happen to her children if she wasn’t here.”
Two days after learning of the shooting, Butler says she isn’t angry. She’s sad.
“I would have done anything to help her out,” Butler said. “Or just say, ‘Why didn’t you call up your family and talk to them? What was going on, honey, that you thought you had to do this alone?'”
Now, Butler says all she can do is tell people what the woman she knew was like, someone who was loving, kind and enthusiastic about life.
“I don’t even know what to say to people except that she had a beautiful heart. She had an innocence about her that wasn’t like other people,” Butler said. “Yeah, she had her ups and downs. She had her dark moments that she had to really fight herself through, but to me this is not her character. Something terrible, terrible had to have happened.”