The Justice Files: Father of son who murdered family members, blames law enforcement

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Shane Peterson is trying to raise seven children on his own.  It’s not his choice.

In 2016, his wife Susan and their son James were murdered.  Another son, Seth Peterson was convicted of killing both of them.  

Shane Peterson, in his first public interview since the murders destroyed his family, says Seth knew he was spiraling out of control.

“He even called 911,” said Peterson. “He was afraid for his life. He was paranoid. He thought my brothers were out to kill him.”

Peterson is blaming the Carbon County Sheriff’s Office for failing to do their duty.  He filed a civil rights lawsuit against the agency earlier this month.

The father said deputies knew Seth was a threat to not only himself to others.

Hours before killing his mother and brother he called 911. The following is a transcript of some of that call.

Seth:  “I feel like my life is in danger. There is a weapon.”
Dispatch:  “There is a weapon?  A gun? Is it a gun?” 
Seth: “I’m not going to answer any more questions.”
Dispatch: “I need to make sure my officers are safe Seth.” 
Seth: “They may not be safe.”

There is a brief interruption as the dispatcher alerts authorities. When she returns to Seth, he can be heard talking to others in the house.

Seth: “I am scared for my life right now.  My life is going to be over today.”

Carbon County sheriff deputies along with Price police arrived to a home near Hiawatha where Peterson was staying. 

They confronted Peterson and put him in handcuffs. Body camera footage showed another person also in handcuffs but he was not questioned.  Authorities suspected that Peterson was on meth. But Peterson would not confirm that suspicion.

According to Shane Peterson, the deputies entered the home and dismantled some of the weapons belonging to his son. They could be heard on a body camera recording of telling Seth that officers can either take him to his home or have his mother come and pick him up.

“Because of what went on here today we don’t feel, with what’s going on, it will probably be better if you don’t stay here,” one of the deputies could be heard talking to Seth.

But the father said they failed to dismantle one rifle and Seth found it after they left.  A shortwhile later, authorities returned after learning of the murders. 

Shane Peterson said his other son was there as well.

“He heard the shot and heard Susan scream and saw her come down off the hill and he yelled out to her ‘are you OK?'” he said.  “(He said) you could see blood coming down her face and then Seth just ran her down the hill and shot her in the back.”

He also shot and killed James. His other son hid in bushes until Seth left. He was later arrested and told authorities he was high on meth and thought the two were strangers.

“I didn’t realize it (drug use) was even that bad,” the father said.  “I knew he had smoked some marijuana, that type of thing.  But this other stuff I had no clue.”

Shane Peterson’s attorney said sheriff deputies knew Seth was a dangerous man and should have followed police policy by taking him into custody and have him evaluated.
  
“If that happens, none of these people die and Seth may have just served some jail time,” said Jake Hinkins.

Instead, Shane Peterson lost three people and is now trying to raise seven children on his own.

“(It feels) terrible, like a nightmare,” he said as he became emotional.  “I don’t know, I mean there’s no describing it. The whole family, it sort of has messed us up.”

In an answer to the lawsuit, the attorney for Carbon County Sheriff’s Office denied all of the allegations.

“The evidence contradicts the complaint,” attorney Heather White told ABC4.  “The officers did not think he was a danger.  The family knew he was a danger and still confronted him.”

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