PLATTE, S.D. -- Authorities believe a Platte family whose home burned to the ground last week died from shotgun wounds.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live

Scott and Nicole Westerhuis, along with their four children, third-grader Kailey, fifth-grader Jaeci, eighth-grader Connor, and sophomore Michael were believed to have died in a fire on Sept. 17 at their home at 36705 379th Street, 3 miles south of Platte.

On Monday, the South Dakota Attorney General's Office released the family's preliminary autopsy reports, which indicate that cause and manner of death for Nicole, Kailey, Jaeci, Connor and Michael Westerhuis were homicide by shotgun wounds.

The attorney general's office released information late on Monday that says the cause of death for Scott Westerhuis is suspected suicide based on the current investigation findings.

"We have experienced the tragic loss of an entire family including young children that has affected an entire community. Based on evidence of foul play continuing to be uncovered, law enforcement remains committed to a complete and thorough investigation," Attorney General Marty Jackley said in a press release.

"We at the Charles Mix County Sheriff's Office express our deepest sorrow to the families involved and to the Platte community," said Charles Mix County Sheriff Randy Thaler.

The Charles Mix County Sheriff's Office and the Division of Criminal Investigation continue their investigation.