MALAD — Oneida County Sheriff Jeff Semrad is tight-lipped but optimistic about progress in the investigation of the shooting deaths of Brent L. Christensen, 62, his son Trent Jon Christensen, 32, and Trent’s girlfriend, Yavette Chivon Carter, 27.
The victims were found dead April 5 at a ranch house outside of the tiny town of Holbrook, which is about 20 miles west of Malad.
The ranch was home to a dogfighting operation and 64 pit bull terriers were rescued. Deputies also discovered a marijuana growing operation in the basement of the home.
“We’re moving forward,” Semrad said. “It just takes time.”
When the bodies of the three adults were discovered, so were two surviving children of Carter — an infant girl and her 2-year-old sister. Semrad said the children had been alone in the house with the victims for 18 to 20 hours. The infant girl was still in her dead mother’s arms.
The girls have since been placed with family members and Semrad said, “They’re doing all right.”
Meanwhile, the Oneida County sheriff's office continues to work the murder case.
“Evidence is clear that this is not a random homicide, but that there is some type of relationship between the perpetrator and the victims, and the general public is not in immediate danger,” Semrad said earlier in the investigation.
The sheriff said one of the obstacles law enforcement faces is the secretive world of illegal dogfighting and the people involved in it.
“They keep tight-lipped about it,” Semrad said.
The danger posed by dog fighting and the folks who participate and gamble on the outcomes is one reason Semrad would like to see Oneida County adopt a stricter ordinance regarding dogs and dog ownership — even in the rural areas.
“Bingham County faxed me their ordinance and I passed it on to the commissioners,” Semrad said.
He said the Bingham ordinance contains protections for ranchers with working dogs and it is a good guideline for Oneida County.
“I’d just as soon not have this sort of thing again,” Semrad said about dogfighting operations.
Oneida County closed down another large dog fighting operation in 2007 and it led to the state legislature making dog fighting a felony in Idaho. Semrad said a new ordinance might close the door on future problems.
As far as the multiple murder case, Semrad said social media has not been helpful.
“It's been more of a hindrance than a help,” Semrad said.
The sheriff said rumors about his deputy, Doug Williams, who is related to Christensen family, have been ridiculous. The Journal has received anonymous emails accusing Deputy Williams of actually attending dogfights outside Holbrook.
“It's complete nonsense,” Semrad said.
He added that ever since a push was made to build a new jail in Malad, an anti-group has been spreading false rumors about him and his department.