Scott Westerhuis is accused of killing his wife, Nicole, and their four children before setting their Platte, South Dakota, house on fire and fatally shooting himself. The bodies were found after firefighters responded to a house fire last Thursday.
Speaking to newsmen, the attorney general's spokeswoman said "It is really very difficult for us to find out if Scott actually started the fire, even though that seems like the only possibility". And it appears Scott Westerhuis shot himself.
"The Platte-Geddes School District is deeply saddened by the passing of the Scott and Nicole Westerhuis Family, due to an early morning fire", Bailey wrote on the school district's Facebook page.
Counselors were back at the Platte-Geddes schools attended by the Westerhuis children on Tuesday to talk with students about the tragedy. "There's anger at Scott, and disbelief that the family is gone".
Connor (8th grade) was such a polite and considerate young man. He was a little bit of a prankster and had a wonderful sense of humor.
The statement said Kailey, a third-grader, "lit up the room with her smile".
Jaeci, a fifth-grader at the elementary school, was more quiet and reserved, the principal said. "We all want to give a word of wisdom", he said. We would like to offer our condolences to the Westerhuis and Fish Families. Say your prayers know that they're together in heaven'. He said he couldn't comment further on personnel issues.
Attorney General Marty Jackley says preliminary autopsy results show Nicole, Kailey, Jaeci, Connor, and Michael Westerhuis died of shotgun wounds.
Charles Mix County Sheriff Randy Thaler expressed his office's deepest sorrow to the families involved and to the Platte community.
Hours before the Westerhuis home was found ablaze in Platte, the company Scott Westerhuis works for had just lost a multi-million dollar contract with the South Dakota Department of Education. She says they were already mourning the loss of their classmates when she had to tell them about the murder-suicide. When you hear something this tragic the whole town is going to know almost instantly, ' Platte Senior Alex Gerlach told.