SD House Fire at Heart of Murder-Suicide Probe


By Bob Mercer

Pierre (SD) – State officials on Tuesday said authorities are investigating the finances of a Platte man suspected of killing his wife, Nicole, and their four children before shooting himself last week.

Scott Westerhuis was business manager for Mid Central Education Cooperative based in Platte.

Tony Venhuizen, Govenor Dennis Daugaard’s chief of staff, on Tuesday revealed that state Education Secretary Melody Schopp on September 16 informed executives of the cooperative that it had lost a $4.3 million grant intended to help Native American high school graduates try college.

Before sunrise the next morning, the suspected murders and suicide took place, and the family home was destroyed by fire.

Firefighters responded to a blaze in the early hours of September 17 at the Westerhuis home in rural Platte. The six bodies were found in the remains of the house.

Nicole Westerhuis also worked for the cooperative.

State Attorney General Marty Jackley announced late Monday, September 21, that the initial investigation showed Scott Westerhuis used a shotgun to kill his wife and the four children.

Jackley said Westerhuis then killed himself with a shotgun.

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