Community rallies around family of American Fork couple killed in murder-suicide


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AMERICAN FORK — Family, friends and those who worked closely with an American Fork couple who died this week honored them with a candlelight vigil Sunday night.

Married couple Kerilyn and Olin Johnson were found dead in their home Thursday. Police ruled their deaths a murder-suicide.

Melanie Cartwright, a family friend, said the vigil was held to help the community and family heal.

"Everyone grieves in their own way, and we just hope that tonight there's enough space for everyone to come and have the experience that they need to have in terms of finding hope and peace and healing," she told KSL.

Cartwright said she met Kerilyn Johnson at Brigham Young University.

"We've been in some productions, the Nauvoo pageant, and I've had the privilege of being in her home and meeting all of her family," Cartwright said.

She said the 52-year-old was a well-known and talented performer. Vigil organizers encouraged people to eat the sweet treats there in honor of Kerilyn Johnson, who they said was a baker and cook.

"Kerilyn was always so full of light and just everyone's cheerleader. Everyone just loved being around Kerilyn," Cartwright said.

In addition to BYU voice students and community theater friends, Cartwright said members of the search and rescue team Olin Johnson was part of came to the vigil.

'Near and dear'

"This couple was just near and dear to this whole community," she said.

A family member spoke at the vigil, thanking the community for its support, and asking for continued privacy and space.

Many people were hugging and crying Sunday, days after the deaths.

Olin Johnson, 57, and Kerilyn Johnson, 52, were found dead inside their American Fork home on Thursday. Police confirm that the deaths were a murder-suicide.
Olin Johnson, 57, and Kerilyn Johnson, 52, were found dead inside their American Fork home on Thursday. Police confirm that the deaths were a murder-suicide. (Photo: Family photo)

They wrote tributes and memories that will be compiled into books and gifted to the Johnsons' six children.

"We just wanted to rally around this family and let them know that they are not alone and that we mourn with them." Cartwright said.

Police have not said what led up to Olin Johnson to shoot his wife twice, then kill himself. They are still investigating, but told KSL there were no signs of a struggle or arguments on scene.

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

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