Salt Lake father kills 6-year-old son before shooting himself, police say

The bodies of a Salt Lake man and his 6-year-old son were found in their home, dead of an apparent murder-suicide, over the weekend after Salt Lake police were asked to conduct a welfare check.

The bodies of a Salt Lake man and his 6-year-old son were found in their home, dead of an apparent murder-suicide, over the weekend after Salt Lake police were asked to conduct a welfare check. (Salt Lake police)


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SALT LAKE CITY — A welfare check led to a tragic discovery over the weekend.

Salt Lake police say Samuel Bean Owen, 34, shot and killed his 6-year-old son in their home, 31 W. Van Buren Ave., before turning the gun on himself.

About 10:15 p.m. Saturday, a family member called police requesting a welfare check on Owen. Police have not released additional details about why that family member, an adult, was concerned about Owen or information about the last time anyone had seen or heard from him. Police say Owen and his son were the only two who lived in the house.

Before officers arrived at the residence, however, the family member went to the house and entered and found the bodies of Owen and his son inside. Police say about 10:30 p.m., the person who discovered the bodies called police back and updated them about a possible death in the home.

"This is a very tragic moment for our community," Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown said in a statement. "These are among the most difficult calls for service our officers, detectives, crime lab technicians, victim advocates and social workers handle. My condolences and prayers are with those impacted by this loss."

Neither the name of the son nor a possible motive for the murder-suicide have been released.

Owen was employed by Salt Lake City as a policy analyst, typically advising City Council members on proposed code changes, funding requests and other dealings tied to public utilities, outdoor spaces and environmental issues. He is listed as the analyst for a proposed Metropolitan Water District of Salt Lake and Sandy property tax increase that the City Council is reviewing in a work session Tuesday afternoon.

City leaders and employees said they are shocked and saddened about the incident, noting that he never showed any signs of violence.

"Sam was a cherished colleague and friend with unparalleled intelligence and compassion. He will be greatly missed," said Salt Lake City Council Chairwoman Victoria Petro, in a prepared statement.

Mayor Erin Mendenhall said she was "heartbroken by this unfathomable tragedy," calling Owen a "dear colleague and a friend to so many of us in city hall."

"My heart aches for the Owen family and grieves with our city team and the broader community who are struggling with this situation," she added.

Court documents indicate that Owen had recently filed for bankruptcy in federal court. His latest scheduled hearing was Friday, according to court records.

Domestic violence resources

Help for people in abusive relationships can be found by contacting:

Suicide prevention resources

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, call 988 to connect with the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

Crisis hotlines

  • Huntsman Mental Health Institute Crisis Line: 801-587-3000
  • SafeUT Crisis Line: 833-372-3388
  • 988 Suicide and Crisis LifeLine at 988
  • Trevor Project Hotline for LGBTQ teens: 1-866-488-7386

Online resources

Warning signs of suicide

  • Talking about wanting to die
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious, agitated or recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings

The more of these signs a person shows, the greater the risk. Warning signs are associated with suicide but may not be what causes a suicide.

Information from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

What to do if you see warning signs of suicide

  • Do not leave the person alone
  • Remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt
  • Call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional

Information from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

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Pat Reavy is a longtime police and courts reporter. He joined the KSL.com team in 2021, after many years of reporting at the Deseret News and KSL NewsRadio before that.
Carter Williams is an award-winning reporter who covers general news, outdoors, history and sports for KSL.com.

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