Series note: “When Homeschoolers Turn Violent” is a joint research project by Homeschoolers Anonymous and Homeschooling’s Invisible Children. Please see the Introduction for detailed information about the purpose and scope of the project.
Trigger warning: If you experience triggers from descriptions of physical and sexual violence, please know that the details in many of the cases are disturbing and graphic.
In May 2013, 15-year-old Aza Vidinhar from West Point, Utah was babysitting 2 of his younger brothers, aged 4 and 10. When Aza’s mother returned home, she found the younger brothers dead, stabbed to death by Aza.
The Vidinhar family had 6 children, 4 of whom were adopted. Aza’s father was an engineer for the Air Force. They lived in “a wonderful neighborhood” where “kids are usually outside playing.” Aza was enrolled as a 9th grader at West Point Junior High as a member of the track team; in the school he was an honor student. However, his mother homeschooled him for other subjects. Aza was a quiet kid who had a speech impediment, was “socially awkward,” and kept to himself. Neighbors described him as “different” and said he was once found “throwing dozens of rocks over a fence.” While he was quiet and awkward, neither he nor any family members had a history of mental illness. Two years prior in 2011, Aza was in the news for running away from home.
On the day of the attack, Aza’s mother left him home alone with two younger siblings, Alex (10) and Benjie (4), while she took his other siblings to a dance recital. (Their father was away in another state.) Upon returning home, she found the dead bodies of 1 of the children. (Police later found the second body.) Aza was nowhere to be seen. He was later found (either by his adopted brothers or the police; reports differ) wandering miles away from home with traces of blood on his clothes.
Officials hesitated at first to charge Aza, though they arrested him and placed him in the Farmington Bay Youth Detention Center. As of August 2013, officials were determining whether Aza was fit to stand trial. In November 2013 he was charged with two counts of felony murder. On July 18, 2014, Aza pleaded guilty “in both juvenile and adult court to intentionally and knowingly stabbing his two younger brothers to death.”
View the case index here.