OPINION: Is there more to come about deaths at Platte?
PIERRE--State Attorney General Marty Jackley hasn't yet told the whole story about the Westerhuis slayings. There remains the text message at 11:30 p.m. on Sept. 16. He revealed the text occurred. He didn't reveal who sent it or who received it. ...
PIERRE-State Attorney General Marty Jackley hasn't yet told the whole story about the Westerhuis slayings.
There remains the text message at 11:30 p.m. on Sept. 16.
He revealed the text occurred.
He didn't reveal who sent it or who received it.
Nor did he reveal what the text said.
The text wasn't something focused on by the citizens who filled the Platte community center for the meeting with Jackley on Tuesday afternoon.
News reporters there didn't seize on it, either.
But in the days since then, the text seems to be a key piece of the story.
The text is somehow proof to Jackley that Scott Westerhuis hadn't yet returned to his home south of Platte as of 11:30 p.m. when the text was sent and received.
Emergency responders arrived at 5:51 a.m. to a massive fire.
We did learn many other important, broader things from the attorney general's news conference/community meeting.
Investigators could see the results: Six people dead, all by shotgun, and the shotgun within about three feet of the body of Scott Westerhuis.
But they couldn't say precisely what happened. They also couldn't say who actually committed the killings.
They tried but couldn't say with certainty who started the fire, how it began and how it moved so destructively through the entire house.
They did have an indication from a trained detection dog that accelerant might have been a few feet from the body of Scott Westerhuis.
They also know where the bodies of his wife, Nicole Westerhuis, and their four children were found after the fire.
The family members lay amid the charred bedsprings in the areas below the two boys' separate bedrooms, and below the master bedroom for Nicole and the two daughters.
Investigators found six 12-gauge shotgun shells that had been fired in the immediate vicinities of those three spots in the house.
They found a 12-gauge shotgun near the body of Scott Westerhuis in the area below what had been the kitchen.
In the shotgun was a spent round still in the chamber and a live round in the gun's magazine. Investigators presumed he lit the fire and shot himself before the blaze spread.
They know Scott Westerhuis was coming back that night from Takini school near Howes. The trip between Takini and Platte takes four hours on the road.
They know where he made six cell phone calls along the way going to Takini in the morning and five calls returning from Takini that evening and night.
The last at 8:24 p.m. was to Nicole.
Investigators tried to fill in blanks. They didn't find any indications someone else took part.
The conclusion settled on Scott Westerhuis.
Abductive reasoning occurs when there isn't proof to know something for certain. Incomplete evidence offers only a likely explanation.
People wanted hard answers Tuesday.
The attorney general said, "We haven't answered every question, but in some investigations you can't."
The full story about the text would answer one of the public's questions.
Whether it would matter remains unknown.