TAYLORSVILLE — Ivan Nickolas "Nick" Vetecnik was only 15, but stood 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighed 350 pounds.
Despite that imposing figure, Nick was described as a "gentle giant."
"He was the most loving boy. He was a beautiful child," said his aunt and legal guardian Kerri Ingham. "Biggest heart of anybody I know. ... He was a great kid."
On Friday, friends and family members were still mourning the loss of their gentle giant and asked the community for their prayers.
Nick was found dead Wednesday in a cargo trailer at 1623 Elsie Drive. Unified police say the death was the result of a homicide, but as of Friday had not released any information about how Nick was killed. A 17-year-old boy was taken into custody in connection with the incident.
Police have said that the two boys were friends.
Ingham said she was asked by police not to discuss details of the case, but said she also knows the 17-year-old.
"This whole thing is out of left field. We never expected this to happen. The character of the other person is the same way. I never, never in a million years thought this would happen," she said. "We knew he was a troubled teen, but his personality, you could tell he was still a good kid."
On Friday, rather than focus on the "horrendous" event, Ingham shared memories of Nick, whom she described as having a "heart of gold" and who always put family first.
Nick has had a tough two years. He lost his mother to cancer in 2019 and his father suffered a fatal heart attack in December. Ingham said Nick greatly missed his mom and dad.
"You lose both your parents at such a young age, that's going to be something that's hard to cope with. But it didn't matter how much pain that boy was in, he was still loving, he was still a good kid," Ingham said.
Nick was making strides and had planned on getting a job this summer as well as going fishing. On Wednesday morning, Nick gave Ingham a "big bear hug" and wrapped his arms around his aunt — who has been like a second mom to him for years — "pulled me into his chest and told me how much he loved me" and then said he was going to hang out with friends.
"He's always been in my life since he was a baby," she said.
A woman on Facebook, who identified herself as a family member, said Nick was killed just a few blocks from his home.
"Please pray for my extended family while they navigate this unimaginable tragedy and the loss of their beloved brother/nephew/cousin/grandson and friend. Their hearts are (unquestionably) broken and they have already endured so much. May God welcome Nick home in the company of his loving mother, father and uncle who preceded him."
Nick has older siblings in Texas who were planning on helping him have the best prom ever. Now, Ingham said the family wants to make sure he has the best funeral.
"We want him to have the most beautiful final resting spot there is. And we want to put his mom's ashes and his dad's ashes with him. And we want him to just go out like a champ, so to speak," she said in tears.
"We would like to give this young man a proper memorial and funeral he deserves. And a beautiful final resting place in a world that is so ugly," the fundraising campaign states. "Please keep our family in your thoughts and prayers."
Police originally stated that Nick was 16, but said on Friday he was 15.
Contributing: Paul Nelson, KSL NewsRadio
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