Sixth person facing murder charges in death of Duchesne County woman

Kristy Lee Whitchurch. Photo Courtesy: Duchesne County Sheriff's Office

DUCHESNE COUNTY, Utah, Nov. 14, 2018 (Gephardt Daily) — Duchesne County sheriff’s detectives have made a sixth arrest after the April beating death of a Duchesne County woman.

Kristy Lee Whitchurch, 37, was arrested Tuesday after a witness came forward and told investigators Whitchurch was directly involved in the April 6 assault that resulted in the death of 51-year-old Sherry Lynn Melo, the Duchesne County Attorney’s Office said in a news release Wednesday.

Whitchurch was booked into the Duchesne County Jail. She was charged Wednesday in 8th District Court with first-degree felony murder, second-degree felony aggravated assault and first-degree felony aggravated burglary.

The Duchesne County Attorney’s Office filed amended charges against five defendants in connection with the aggravated assault after Melo passed away at a Provo hospital on April 22.

Sherry Lynn Melo. Photo Courtesy: Obituary

After she died, the charges against Thomas Neil Tuinman, 35, Stephanie Tuinman, 33, Michael Wallace Tuinman, 30, Samantha Tuinman, 30, and Byron Rashad Thompson, 29, were amended from attempted aggravated murder to aggravated murder.

All five defendants are also charged with aggravated assault and aggravated burglary.

A probable cause statement issued by the 8th District Court in Duchesne said the incident occurred in the area of 2761 W. 2500 South.

The statement said that on Nov. 13, an eye witness came forward and gave a statement that the defendant, Whitchurch, and five others entered the home and chased two victims out of the home, Menlo and her husband. The two were hit, kicked and beaten with different items including a board and a bat.

Whitchurch, as well as the other five defendants, are being held without bail.

From left, Samantha Tuinman, Thomas Neil Tuinman, Stephanie Tuinman, Michael Wallace Tuinman and Byron Rashad Thompson were initially charged with attempted murder in Duchesne County. After the victim died, the charges were amended to murder. Photos: Duchesne County Sheriff

 

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