HOLBROOK — The identities of three shooting victims in this rural agricultural community have been identified in what authorities are calling the worst mass murder in Oneida County’s history.
Two young girls, including an infant, were unharmed.
The bodies of Brent L. Christensen, 62, Trent Jon Christensen, 32, and Yavette Chivon Carter, 27, were found inside a residence just one mile west of the tiny town of Holbrook with a population of 400. The house where the victims were killed contained 38 marijuana plants and was the hub of a pit bull farm where about 70 adult dogs and puppies were discovered.
Evidence at the scene suggests dog fights were held at the site.
Bruce Christensen, Brent’s brother and Trent’s uncle, said the tragedy was predictable and likely linked to his brother’s drug use.
All three victims were shot to death sometime between Thursday afternoon and 1 p.m. Friday when someone who came to the home to pick up dogs discovered their bodies.
A 2-year-old child and a 2-month-old infant were also discovered at the scene. The infant was tucked under her mother’s arm, according to law enforcement officials.
“It looked as if she was protecting the baby when she was killed,” Oneida County Sheriff Jeff Semrad said.
An ambulance was dispatched to the scene and the children were released to family members.
Authorities described the marijuana growing operation found in the basement of the house as sophisticated. Semrad said 38 plants valued at about $2,500 each were discovered.
“This is what happens when you get mixed up with drugs,” Bruce Christensen said.
Bruce said his brother was sent to prison for drug-related crimes and had even done a stint in rehab. He added that he and Brent were close at one time.
“He was a good father at one time and he really loved his ex-wife,” Bruce said. “He just had a bad drug problem.”
Bruce said Brent even introduced his own son, Trent, to illegal drugs.
“I don’t know if Trent still used or not,” Bruce said. “I know he was a hard worker and a good kid.”
Bruce suspects the killings were drug-related.
“My guess is that he owed someone a lot of money for drugs,” he said.
Early into the investigation of the killings, the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office said it wanted to talk to the drivers of separate blue and a red semi-tractors seen at the Christensen property earlier in the week.
Semrad said the driver of a blue semi-tractor contacted authorities Saturday and provided additional information. Law enforcement authorities are still looking for the driver of a red semi-tractor and anyone who might have attended an Easter party at the house on March 31.
“We don’t know that there is a connection,” Semrad said. “We just know that there were a lot of people there that day.”
Semrad said the shooting was not a random act of violence and robbery was not a motive.
“The victims and the suspect had some sort of relationship,” Semrad said.
He declined to say how many times the victims were shot or if weapons were recovered from the home. Currently, there are no suspects in the killings.
A six-foot high wooden fence enclosed an area behind the house where the dozens of pit bulls were held. The dogs, skinny and exposed, were chained in the dusty yard and dozens of puppies were kenneled in the enclosure as well.
A metal fence constructed out of roofing material enclosed another area adjacent to the home.
Oneida County Commissioner Max Firth donated dog food for the animals and Semrad said he has received a number of calls stating that some of the animals at the Holbrook residence were being boarded there.
“We’re waiting to find out who the dogs belong to and what the family wants to do with them,” Semrad said.
In 2007 Oneida County authorities shut down a dog-fighting operation and that case lead Idaho legislators to pass tougher laws that made dog-fighting a felony in Idaho.
Semrad said he had been contacted by the Bannock County Humane Society regarding the animals at the Christensen property.
Anyone with information about the case is urged to contact the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office at 208-766-2251 or text a tip to 208-815-0120.