Few Leads in Brutal Attack on Utah Couple in Brazil

Few Leads in Brutal Attack on Utah Couple in Brazil

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(AP/KSL News) -- There are still few answers this morning in the brutal attack in Brazil that left a Utah man dead and his wife in a coma.

Todd Staheli, 39, a native of Spanish Fork, Utah, and vice president for joint ventures in the Southern Cone gas and power unit of oil giant Shell, was found dead Sunday morning by one of his children.

His wife, Michele Staheli, 36, who was from Logan, Utah, suffered face and head wounds and remained in critical condition Monday at the Copa D'Or Hospital following emergency brain surgery.

Mrs. Staheli was "in a deep coma and shows signs of extensive brain damage," said a statement from the hospital's director, Joao Pantoja.

Police spokesman Renato Homem said the couple had been attacked with sharp instruments, but not with knives. He said nothing was stolen and that police did not know how the attackers could have entered the guarded house.

Staheli's brother, Chad Staheli of Spanish Fork, told The Salt Lake Tribune that the couple apparently were attacked while sleeping.

He said they were found by their 10-year-old son, who woke his 13-year-old sister. After trying unsuccessfully to wake their parents, the children called another American family who attends their Mormon church ward. Members of that family came over and notified authorities, he said.

The couple's children, who also include girls ages 5 and 3, are being cared for by the family who notified police, he said.

Family members hope to bring them back to the United States, but are unsure when they will arrive because of their mother's condition, he said. Todd Staheli's parents and Michelle Staheli's brother and sister were on their way to Brazil on Monday.

None of the children reported hearing any sounds, police said.

The couple met at Utah State University, and had been married about 15 years, Chad Staheli said.

He said his brother, who had a law degree from Brigham Young University, had been working for Shell for years, moving his family to London, Ukraine, Switzerland and Saudi Arabia before transferring to Rio de Janeiro a few months ago.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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