Westerhuis then started his home on fire before turning the gun on himself.
The Community Center in Platte was packed with more than 100 people. They even had to bring out extra chairs. And while people in Platte got many of the answers they were looking for, there are still mysteries in this case, some of which may never be solved.
The horrific way in which the members of the Westerhuis family were found in the remains of their burned out home tells the story of how they died.
Attorney General Marty Jackley says the Nicole Westerhuis and her two daughters, Jaeci and Kailey, were found in bed together in what was the master bedroom. The two teenage sons, Conner and Michael, were found in their beds. Scott Westerhuis was found in another part of the home.
“Kitchen or dining area; Scott was found facing North. There was a 12-gage Charles Daly shotgun,” Jackley said.
Jackley says all the forensic evidence and witness interviews supports that Scott Westerhuis acted alone in shooting and killing his family before starting fire to their home and turning the gun on himself. Jackley then pointed toward a motive by laying out a timeline of Scott Westerhuis’ phone calls the evening before.
“Four phone calls regarding a conversation where Scott became aware of some of the challenges or concerns associated with the existing GEAR UP contract. Certainly there exists financial motive here, but beyond what is public, I can’t talk about that,” Jackley said.
Investigators say the last text messages sent or received by members of the Westerhuis family were at 11:30 Wednesday night. But there is one later phone call that remains a mystery. At 3 a.m., two and a half hours before the 911 call reporting the fire, there was a call from the Westerhuis’ landline phone to Nicole’s cell phone, resulting in a 43 second voice mail.
“Certainly those 43 seconds may have shed further light on some of the questions you in the community have today. It also could be 43 seconds of silence,” Jackley said.
The phone was destroyed in the fire and investigators say there’s no recording of it.
“There’s not because the phones were terminated and that information is not available,” Jackley said.
The Westerhuis’ phones were under Mid Central Educational Cooperative’s account.
“It’s been explained to me they were deactivated in the normal course of business. And at this point, I can’t speak beyond that,” Jackley said.
Jackley also isn’t saying what’s happening with the financial investigation or who else is under scrutiny, only that the federal government is now involved.
“We want to make sure it’s a thorough and complete financial investigation so we can make the best decisions we can in relation to that,” Jackley said.
One thing that could help in that investigation is a safe that is missing from the Westerhuis home.
“Angela’s asked the question, ‘Was there a safe in the house?’ From the witness interview and information we have, up until Tuesday, there was a safe in the house. We have not been able to locate the safe,” Jackley said.
Jackley says there are three possibilities: the safe was either destroyed in the fire, stolen or moved somewhere else by Scott Westerhuis.
Scott Westerhuis did have alcohol in his system when he died, but the level was just .024. That’s less than the legal limit to drive.
Jackley also confirmed that Scott Westerhuis was building another home in a separate location, but would not say where.