Mom killed in bizarre murder-suicide case falsely believed she had terminal cancer

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A couple who recently moved from Switzerland to Utah planned a murder-suicide that left their family of four dead, buying sleeping pills and researching shootings, according to a police report on the investigation into the deaths that was released this week.

Jessica Griffith, 43, believed she had a terminal disease and texted her husband last year about picking “good time to leave” so they would be together and “love for eternity,” said the report made public on Wednesday. The family was found dead in November 2017, just a few months after they moved to Mapleton, Utah from Switzerland.

An autopsy, however, found Jessica Griffith was healthy before she died, Mapleton police chief John Jackson said Thursday.

It’s not clear why she spoke extensively with her husband about her pain and sent him links to ovarian cancer websites, he said.

“We wish we knew the answer to that,” Jackson said.

Police suspect the couple put sleeping pills in hot chocolate the mother and children drank after the family ate fondue and played the card game Uno.

Timothy Griffith used a pistol to shoot his sedated wife, her 16-year-old daughter and the couple’s 5-year-old son Alexendre Griffith along with the family German shepherd before killing himself.

The couple had met and married in Switzerland. Tim Griffiths was American, but had moved there after meeting his first Swiss wife when she was a high-school exchange student, according to his family.

His second wife, Jessica, and her daughter Samantha Badel were Swiss. Jessica Griffith had cut ties with her Swiss relatives after saying she was abused as a child, though her family denies that, Jackson said. Friends told police that Timothy Griffith had also had rough childhood experiences.

After the two married, Timothy Griffith’s relationship with his children from his first marriage grew distant as he became violent with them, his ex-wife told police.

The family moved to Mapleton, about 55 miles (88 kilometers) south of Salt Lake City, for Timothy Griffith’s job with Nestle.

Some of their new neighbors in Utah were Mormon, and Badel was interested The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but her parents were not, the report said. The teenager spoke only French, making it hard to her to make friends at her high school, Jackson said, but some of their Mormon neighbors also spoke the language.

Shortly after the family arrived in July, Timothy Griffith started searching about buying guns online and later researched gunshot wounds, the police report said.

The couple exchanged texts about the suicide plans about two weeks before they died and also messaged each other about money problems and intimate marital woes, the report said.

Jessica Griffith proposed celebrating Christmas early last year by telling the children she had to go to the hospital. Spending time around the Christmas tree would help them the children “leave in peace and joy,” she said.

Timothy Griffith worried his teenage stepdaughter might sense something was strange, but agreed, the police report said.

They both sent final email messages to estranged family members the day of the deaths, and Jessica Griffith apparently tried to mask her involvement in the planning by deleting texts, the report said.


[Feature image: Sammy Jo Hester of The Daily Herald via Associated Press]