- Associated Press - Saturday, September 26, 2015

PLATTE, S.D. (AP) - The South Dakota community of Platte gathered Saturday to remember the four children killed in what authorities have described as an apparent murder-suicide.

More than 200 relatives, friends and community members attended the service at the Platte-Geddes school gymnasium for 16-year-old Michael Westerhuis, 14-year-old Connor, 10-year-old Jaeci and 9-year-old Kailey, the Argus Leader reports (https://argusne.ws/1OYKm1Y ).

Pastor Harry Koops spoke fondly of each child and noted the effect the family’s deaths have had on the community of about 1,200.

“Last Thursday, life as we know it in Platte changed,” said Koops, noting that such tragedies typically happen in larger cities. “When they happen here, we feel unsettled.”

Investigators believe the family’s father, Scott Westerhuis, shot his wife, Nicole Westerhuis, and four children last week, then set the family home near Platte ablaze before shooting himself. A separate public service was held earlier Saturday for Scott Westerhuis, and a private service was held for Nicole Westerhuis.

All of the children were involved in sports, other school activities and their church’s youth groups. Michael’s football teammates carried the caskets from the gym to hearses waiting outside before family members attended a private burial service.

Businesses around town shut down during the funeral. The Casey’s General Store on West Seventh Street bore a sign on the front door saying the business was closed out of respect for the families.

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Information from: Argus Leader, https://www.argusleader.com


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