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Pesticide technician says he's haunted by Layton girls' deaths

By Jennifer Stagg | Posted - Aug. 16, 2010 at 9:45 p.m.



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BOUNTIFUL -- The shocking deaths of two young Layton sisters in February were devastating for all involved. The Toone family lost two daughters, and the pesticide technician who applied the chemical that investigators believe killed them says he's haunted by their deaths.

"You just never get over it. You kind of go on with your life, and you get used to the way things are, but you just never get over it," Cole Nocks says.


Regardless of the outcome of this case ... they still have lost two of their most precious gifts. And I don't think there's anything in the world that's going to change that.

–Cole Nocks, former pesticide technician


Nocks hasn't talked about what happened until now, and he asked that we only show his back because he is already nervous to go out in public.

Nocks says he knows what the Toone family is dealing with. He lost a son more than 20 years ago -- and the Toones are coping with twice the loss.

"I send my deepest sympathy to the family," Nocks says. "Regardless of the outcome of this case, regardless of the outcome of what's happened to Bugman [Pest Control] as a result of it, regardless of anything, they still have lost two of their most precious gifts. And I don't think there's anything in the world that's going to change that. And I don't think there's anything in the world that's going to make that better."

In February, Nocks treated the Toones' home for a vole infestation. Four-year-old Rebecca and her 15-month-old sister, Rachel, died less than three days after their home was treated.

Investigators determined Nocks had used large amounts of the pesticide and applied it much too closely to the home. He is now facing two counts of negligent homicide -- class A misdemeanor.

Nocks has stayed quiet about his side of what happened, saying he will let the details come out in trial; but he says prosecutors and the community are looking for someone to blame.

4-year-old Rebecca Toone (left) and 15-month-old Rachel Toone (right) died just days after their home was treated with pesticide
4-year-old Rebecca Toone (left) and 15-month-old Rachel Toone (right) died just days after their home was treated with pesticide

"I take exception to the fact that statements were made and leaked to the press about this case, because it forces the public to not only make a conclusion, but it also prejudices them against someone defending themselves in court," Nocks says.

He is scheduled to be back in court Tuesday for a pretrial hearing.

Meanwhile, Nocks' former employer, Bugman Pest Control, is nearing a settlement with the Utah Department of Agriculture for records violations.

In May, investigators said Bugman had 3,500 violations related to records keeping between April 2009 and February 2010, when the girls died. This new agreement would settle those allegations.

The Department of Agriculture says Bugman could be fined more than $30,000, individual employees within the company could be fined, and an undisclosed number of employees could lose their licenses.

Though neither side has signed the agreement yet, both Bugman's owner and a representative from the Department of Agriculture say they hope to sign one this week. The proposed settlement would be a civil agreement and is separate from the criminal proceedings.

E-mail: jstagg@ksl.com

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Jennifer Stagg

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