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Sixth person charged with murder in Duchesne County attack

By Pat Reavy | Posted - Nov 14th, 2018 @ 4:40pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — A sixth person was charged Wednesday in connection with the April death of a Duchesne County woman and severe beating of her husband.

Kristy Lee Whitchurch, 37, of Roosevelt, is charged in 8th District Court with murder and aggravated burglary, both first-degree felonies, and aggravated assault, a second-degree felony.

On April 6, a large group of people barged into a home at 2725 W. 2500 South in the Vonsville area near Roosevelt and attacked Sherry Melo with a baseball bat, and also severely beat her husband, according to a police report. Police found Melo sitting on her front porch, bleeding from her head, nose and mouth. She told investigators that she was hit on the head.

After she was taken to a hospital, doctors discovered Melo had bleeding on her brain. She was flown by medical helicopter to another hospital with "extensive injuries," the report states.

Melo, 51, of Roosevelt, died April 22, at a Provo hospital, according to her obituary.

Deputies responding to the scene that night also found Rick Hoke next door bleeding from his head, nose and mouth, according to police.

"He said that somebody had broken his front door and chased him and his wife outside and then hit and kicked him in the back yard," the report states. The man reported he had been beaten "with pieces of wood and other objects from his back yard and had also been punched and kicked while he was on the ground behind his house."

Thomas Neil Tuinman, 35; Michael Wallace Tuinman, 30; Samantha Tuinman, 30; Stephanie Ann Tuinman, 33; and Byron Rashad Thompson, 29; are all charged with murder and aggravated assault.

A fifth member of the Tuinman family, Nicole Marie Tuinman, 27, was charged with retaliation against a witness, a third-degree felony.

According to the new charges against Whitchurch, a witness went to police on Tuesday as said Whitchurch and the others "entered the home and chased the two victims out of the home, where they were hit, kicked and beat with different items including a board and bat."

A motive for the attack has not been released.

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