TIME tragedy

Police: Poison Likely Killed Utah Family of 5

Utah Five Bodies Found
The home where five Utah family members found dead in their home in Springville, Utah, on Sept. 28, 2014 Rick Bowmer—AP

Investigators found empty methadone bottles, 10 empty boxes of nighttime cold medicine and two boxes of allergy medicine in their garbage, along with a red liquid substance in Pepsi cups

(SALT LAKE CITY) — A Utah couple and their three children found dead in their home last month were likely poisoned, their bodies found together in a locked room with cups next to each of them, and empty bottles of methadone and nighttime cold medicine in a trash can.

Police in Springville aren’t saying who killed the family or whether one of the parents might have been involved. Toxicology results have not determined an exact cause of death, but search warrants obtained Wednesday say the family was likely poisoned.

Benjamin and Kristi Strack were in bed, with children ages 11 through 14 lying around them, tucked in bedding up to their necks, according to the search warrants. Kristi Strack had a red liquid coming out of her mouth.

Some of the bodies looked to have been positioned after they died Sept. 27. They were found by the couple’s older son and Kristi Strack’s mother, who said she couldn’t believe “she” would do this to the kids but wouldn’t elaborate, police wrote.

Investigators found empty methadone bottles, 10 empty boxes of nighttime cold medicine and two boxes of allergy medicine in their garbage, along with a red liquid substance in Pepsi cups. They also found a pitcher of red juice, a purple bucket with yellow liquid, a bag of marijuana and other medications, including sleeping pills.

Springville police Lt. Dave Caron said Wednesday he couldn’t comment on the search warrant or speculate about the cause of death until results of a toxicology test come back. That’s expected in late November, he said.

“Until I get those, I really don’t have anything,” he said. “I could come up with all sorts of theories, but it’s not helpful.”

The search warrant says it wasn’t normal for the children to be in their parents’ room because they have their own rooms.

Kristi Strack was last seen alive at 6 a.m. by the older son’s girlfriend, who also lives in the home. The girlfriend went back to sleep after talking with Kristi Strack, and the house was quiet when the older son and his girlfriend left the house that afternoon.

When they returned at 7 p.m. and saw the house was still quiet even though all the cars were in the driveway, they knocked on the master bedroom door. When no one answered, the couple called Kristi Strack’s mother and her friend, who helped them force it open.

Authorities have previously said the five did not die violently.

The five were identified as Benjamin Strack, 37, his wife, Kristi, 36, and three of their children: Benson, 14, Emery, 12, and Zion, 11.

Little is known about the family. A family spokesman has declined to reveal much and, at a vigil, family members declined comment.

Benjamin Strack’s former boss said he worked off-and-on for six to seven years at AK Masonry, a bricklaying company, and had borrowed money in the past. Court records show Benjamin and Kristi Strack pleaded guilty to misdemeanor forgery charges in 2008 and disorderly conduct the following year.

Springville is a city of about 30,000 near Provo, about 45 miles south of Salt Lake City.

TIME Sri Lanka

10 Dead, Over 250 Missing in Sri Lanka Mudslide

Most of Sri Lanka has seen heavy rain over the past few weeks, and the Disaster Management Center had issued warnings for mudslides and falling rocks

(COLOMBO, SRI LANKA) — A mudslide triggered by monsoon rains buried scores of workers’ houses at a tea estate in central Sri Lanka on Wednesday, killing at least 10 people and leaving more than 250 missing, officials said.

The mudslide struck at around 7:30 a.m. and wiped out 120 workers’ homes at the Meeriabedda tea estate in Badulla district, 218 kilometers (135 miles) east of the capital, Colombo, said Lal Sarath Kumara, an official from the Disaster Management Center.

By early afternoon, rescue workers had pulled out 10 bodies that had been buried by the mudslide, Kumara said. More than 250 other people were missing, he said.

The military mobilized troops to help in the rescue operations.

Most of Sri Lanka has seen heavy rain over the past few weeks, and the Disaster Management Center had issued warnings for mudslides and falling rocks.

The current monsoon season in the Indian Ocean island nation runs from October through December.

Sri Lanka’s famous Ceylon tea is produced mainly in the country’s central hills.

TIME Bangladesh

Bangladesh Islamist Party Chief Sentenced to Death

Nizami chief of the Jamaat-e-Islami addresses a rally in Dhaka
Motiur Rahman Nizami, chief of the Jamaat-e-Islami addresses a rally in Dhaka on Feb. 11, 2006 Rafiquar Rahman—Reuters

Motiur Rahman Nizami was tried on 16 charges, including genocide, murder, torture, rape and destruction of property

(DHAKA, BANGLADESH) — A special tribunal in Bangladesh has sentenced the head of the country’s largest Islamist party to death for his role in the deaths of thousands during the nation’s independence war against Pakistan in 1971.

The head of a three-judge panel, M. Enayetur Rahim, announced the verdict Wednesday against Motiur Rahman Nizami in a packed courtroom in the nation’s capital of Dhaka. The 71-year-old Nizami was in the dock for the announcement.

Nizami, a former Cabinet minister, was tried on 16 charges, including genocide, murder, torture, rape and destruction of property.

Bangladesh says Pakistani soldiers, aided by local collaborators, killed 3 million people, raped 200,000 women and forced about 10 million people to take shelter in refugee camps across the border in neighboring India during the nine-month war.

TIME medicine

The Right—and Right Time—to Die: How Doctors Should Help

Jauhar is a cardiologist and the author of Doctored: The Disillusionment of an American Physician.

I've tried to fight a patient's inevitable death, but I know that's not always the best care—and America needs to talk about what is

As doctors, we are expected to prolong human life, and we do—but often regardless of the costs. Brittany Maynard, the 28-year-old Oregon woman with an inoperable brain tumor, puts a human face on this tragedy. Maynard has decided that she does not want to suffer through a painful, protracted death and is planning to end her life with doctor-prescribed pills, obtained through Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act; she may have died by the time you read this. In Oregon, more than 1,100 people have obtained life-ending prescriptions since the law’s passage in 1997, and about 750 have used them safely and appropriately. By numerous accounts, the law has been a success. And yet many doctors, not to mention laymen, continue to regard its goals with suspicion. I have been one of those doctors.

I once cared for an 88-year-old patient with a severely leaky heart valve. When she was hospitalized with worsening kidney and heart failure, a critical-care specialist decided to forgo aggressive treatment. But unwilling to give up, and against my better judgment, I transferred her to the cardiac intensive-care unit. Her stay there was a disaster. She was unable to be weaned from a respirator. Her liver failed. Even as it became clear to me that she was going to die and that my interventions had been for no good purpose, I became very reluctant to change course. We checked blood tests several times per day. I inserted a pressure catheter in her pulmonary artery to monitor her hemodynamics. I started her on dialysis. The breathing tube remained in her throat till the end. Eventually she succumbed to multi-system organ failure and sepsis, nearly a week after I’d moved her to the ICU.

At their core, my actions were a kind of deception—convincing myself, despite the evidence, that I could save my patient and stay the inexorable course of her disease. Perhaps I was embarrassed by my impotence or afraid to see a beloved patient pass. I don’t know. But it was the kind of deception that many in my profession practice.

Of course, it isn’t only doctors who medicalize the terminal phase of life. Patients and their families do too. I once took care of a middle-aged man in the ICU who’d had a cardiac arrest and ended up with significant brain damage because he had been out so long. His wife would not accept the terminal nature of his condition. “He is going to pull out of this,” she told me adamantly. When I asked if her husband had ever expressed any preferences about being on life support, she told me what I expected: they had never discussed it.

That conversation is often the crux of the problem. Most people never have it, thus families and doctors are left to substitute their own judgments and prejudices for those of the patient. What does a dying patient want? What is the minimum quality of life that is acceptable to him or her? As Maynard has so poignantly shown us, these are questions we need to ask before it is too late. And it’s not just families who need to have the tough talk. As a nation, we need to rethink our approach to dying and death. Our reluctance to confront mortality is the cause of too much suffering.

Most Americans die in a hospital or a nursing home. Almost one-third of the $554 billion we spent on Medicare in 2011 was used to treat people in the last six months of their lives. Nearly every colleague I’ve talked to recognizes that this wastes precious resources and prolongs suffering. But they—I—have not been taught a different way.

Hospice is one alternative. The modern hospice movement started in 1967, when Dame Cicely Saunders, a nurse, opened St. Christopher’s Hospice in London. Saunders formulated three principles for easing the process of dying: relief of physical pain, preservation of dignity, and respect for the psychological and spiritual aspects of death. Though it’s been slow, progress has been made. The number of American hospitals offering palliative care has nearly doubled since 2000, growing to nearly 1,500 programs—the majority of hospitals. Yet even as reflective an observer as Atul Gawande admits in his new book, speaking no doubt for the majority of physicians, “The picture I had of hospice was a morphine drip.”

Doctors witness death and dying nearly every day. Disease may win in the end, but we must strive to never lose sight of the patient at the center of it all, and we must empower our patients to make their own decisions in the terminal phase of their lives. Maynard’s terrible tale reminds me of what an elderly woman with terminal heart disease once told me: “My husband said the hardest thing to do is to die; I always thought it would be easy.”

 

Jauhar is a cardiologist and the author of two books, Intern: A Doctor’s Initiation and the recently published Doctored: The Disillusionment of an American Physician

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Soccer

South Africa’s Soccer Captain Senzo Meyiwa Has Been Shot Dead

Australia South Africa Soccer Mayiwa Obit
In this file photo dated May 26, 2014, South Africa's goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa makes a diving save against Australia during their friendly soccer match in Sydney Rick Rycroft—AP

Armed men entered a house where Meyiwa was staying, but the motive remains unclear

South African national soccer captain and goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa was fatally shot on Sunday by armed men who broke into the house where he was residing.

Two gunmen entered the house, located in the Vosloorus township near Johannesburg, while an accomplice waited outside, the Associated Press reported.

Authorities said there were seven people in the house at the time of the shooting, which reportedly came after an “altercation.” A motive for the murder remains unclear.

Meyiwa, 27, played for South African soccer club Orlando Pirates and also captained the national side in its last four games.

“This is a sad loss whichever way you look at it — to Senzo’s family, his extended family, Orlando Pirates and to the nation,” Pirates chairman Irvin Khoza said.

South Africa lost another prominent sportsman just a couple of days earlier, when athlete Mbulaeni Mulaudzi was killed in an automobile accident on Friday.

[AP]

TIME Baseball

St. Louis Cardinals Slugger Oscar Taveras Dies in Car Crash

Oscar Taveras
This May 31, 2014 file photo shows St. Louis Cardinals' Oscar Taveras smiling after the Cardinals' 2-0 victory over the San Francisco Giants in St. Louis. Jeff Roberson—AP

The 22-year-old outfielder lost control of his car on a highway in the Dominican Republic

American baseball lost one of its rising stars Sunday, after St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic.

The Associated Press reported that Taveras lost control of his Chevrolet Camaro on a highway about 215 miles from the country’s capital Santo Domingo. The 22-year-old player was not carrying any documents at the time of the accident, but his body was identified by his family members. Taveras’ girlfriend, named as 18-year-old Edilia Arvelo, also perished in the crash.

“I simply can’t believe it,” Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said in a press release, while the team’s chairman, Bill DeWitt Jr., said they were all “stunned and deeply saddened” by the loss.

“Oscar was an amazing talent with a bright future who was taken from us well before his time,” DeWitt said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends tonight.”

Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig also issued a statement mourning Taveras’ loss. “All of us throughout Major League Baseball are in mourning this evening, shocked by the heartbreaking news of the accident involving Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras and his girlfriend in the Dominican Republic,” Selig said.

Taveras signed with the Cardinals in 2008, and made his major league debut this year after previously being ranked as Major League Baseball’s No. 3 overall prospect.

[AP]

TIME Mental Health/Psychology

Reliving A Friend’s Death May Help Lessen Grief

Nearly 40% of those who did not relive a the death of a loved one showed signs of prolonged grief disorder

Reliving the death of a close friend or family member may reduce the experience of long-term grief, according to a new study in JAMA Psychiatry.

The study assigned 80 people who had lost a loved one within the past few years to a 10-week regimen of cognitive behavioral therapy. Some of them were also assigned to exposure therapy, in which patients were made to relive the death of the loved one. Nearly 38% of those who did not get the additional exposure therapy showed symptoms of prolonged grief disorder, which includes yearning for the person who’s gone, bitterness about accepting the death and difficulty in engaging in life. Only 15% of those people who got the extra treatment showed signs of it.

Painful as it is, reliving a death may improve a patient’s ability to process loss and adapt to it, the study suggests.

“Including exposure therapy that promotes emotional processing of memories of the death is an important component to achieve optimal reduction in [grief] severity,” the study reads. “Despite the distress elicited by engaging with memories of the death, this strategy does not lead to aversive responses.”

Though researchers acknowledge some limitations, the study’s implications suggest some changes in the way doctors approach treatment for those in grief.

“Reluctance to engage with their distressing emotions may be a major reason for not managing the grief more effectively,” the study reads. “The challenge is to foster better education of clinicians through evidence-supported interventions to optimize adaption to the loss as effectively as possible.”

TIME Nepal

Death Toll in Nepal Blizzards Rises to 40 as Authorities Wind Down Search

The body of a victim is moved from an ambulance to the morgue after it was brought back from Annapurna Region in Kathmandu
The body of a victim is moved from an ambulance to the morgue after it was brought back from Annapurna Region in Kathmandu October 17, 2014. Navesh Chitrakar—Reuters

More than 600 people have been rescued, but a few locals are still reportedly missing

Nepalese authorities are being thwarted in their hunt for more survivors of the Himalayan snowstorms that have killed at least 40 people over the past week.

After minor avalanches hampered the search for stranded climbers Monday, Keshav Pandey, of the Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal, admitted, “After this we can only hope that those who are missing will establish contact with us or their families,” Reuters reports.

Some 600 people have been rescued so far by the Nepalese army and other groups. Pandey believes it unlikely any more tourists are missing but said that some local porters and guides had not yet been traced.

Casualties from the blizzards, which took place unexpectedly during peak trekking season and are said to have been triggered by a cyclone that hit eastern India the previous week, included trekkers from Israel, Japan, Canada, Poland and Slovakia along with several locals.

Baburam Bhandari, chief of Nepal’s Mustang district on the Annapurna mountain circuit where the blizzards hit, told Reuters that army rescuers dug out the body of another Israeli tourist on Monday.

This is the second major disaster this year in Nepal, which is home to eight of the world’s 10 highest mountains. (Annapurna ranks in 10th place.) Sixteen local guides lost their lives this April in an avalanche on the world’s tallest peak, Mount Everest.

Nepalese Tourism Minister Dipak Amatya said he would do everything possible to ensure that the country never again encountered a tragedy of this nature. “There is no point blaming the hostile weather for the disaster,” Amatya said.

[Reuters]

TIME Aging

How to Talk About The End of Your Life

The toughest conversation might also be the most important

The video of Brittany Maynard, 29, describing her choice to move to Oregon for the right to end her life due to her terminal cancer has received well over 7 million views. It’s also left many people shocked, saddened and inspired by her decision.

“I am not suicidal. If I were, I would have consumed that medication long ago. I do not want to die. But I am dying. And I want to die on my own terms,” Maynard wrote on CNN.com.

Talking about death—and the circumstances surrounding it—is uncomfortable for most people. But my colleague Lily Rothman, 28, just wrote her will. “My eventual death was something I’d been mentioning to lots of people, on Facebook and at engagement parties and at my high-school reunion,” she writes. “It wasn’t that I thought death was going to come any time soon or in any special way, it’s just that, as they say on Game of Thrones, all men must die.”

MORE: 5 Tips For Families Facing End-Of-Life Care

Many people argue that it’s time we had more conversations about the end of life and how we want to go. It’s a conversation that can become awkward, especially for adult children bringing it up to their parents, but it allows people to avoid having to make very difficult decisions at the most sensitive times. “It’s critically important for us to have these conversations at the kitchen table,” says Ellen Goodman, founder of The Conversation Project, a nonprofit organization that campaigns for the expression and respect of wishes for end-of-life care. “Too many people are not dying in the way that they choose, and we need to change that.”

Goodman, who had to make medical decisions for her dying mother that they had never discussed beforehand, also created the Conversation Starter Kit, which you can download for free. So far, people in 50 states and 176 countries have downloaded the kit. That’s great news, considering about 90% of Americans believe it’s important to talk about their end-of-life care wishes and those of their loved ones, but only 30% actually have those discussions, according to the Conversation Project. “We would hope that this really tragic story of [Brittany Maynard] has an outcome that will really help people talk about these issues,” says Goodman.

Here are some other preparations you might consider if preparing an end-of-life checklist, from the National Institute on Aging:

  • A living will, which records a person’s wishes for medical treatment near the end of life.
  • Designating a durable power of attorney for health care, which names a person, sometimes called an agent or proxy, to make health care decisions when a person can no longer do so.
  • Talking about a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order, which instructs health care professionals not to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation if a person’s heart stops or if he or she stops breathing. A DNR order is signed by a doctor and put in a person’s medical chart.
  • Writing a will—a document that indicates how a person’s assets and estate will be distributed upon death.
  • Naming a durable power of attorney for finances, someone to make financial decisions when the person no longer can. It can help terminally ill people and their families avoid court actions that may take away control of financial affairs.
  • Penning a living trust, which provides instructions about the person’s estate and appoints someone, often referred to as the trustee, to hold the title to property and funds for the beneficiaries. The trustee follows these instructions after the person can no longer manage his or her affairs.
TIME Aging

5 Reasons Why Women Live Longer Than Men

Pink stethoscope with female symbol
Getty Images

Life expectancy in the U.S. is at an all-time high, according to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And while the news that we’re living, on average, to the ripe old age of 78 years and 9 ½ months isn’t that surprising, there is one stat that is: A girl born in 2012 can expect to live to 81.2 years—almost 5 years longer than a boy baby born the same year, who’s likely live to age 76.4. Weaker sex, indeed.

“Men are biologically and sociologically at a disadvantage from the time they’re conceived to the time they die,” says Marianne Legato, MD, professor emerita of clinical medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and founder and director of the Foundation for Gender-Specific Medicine. Here’s why:

Females are tougher in utero

Two and a half as many boys are conceived as girls, Dr. Legato says, but they’re so much more likely to succumb to prenatal infection or other issues in the womb that by the time they’re born, the ratio is close to one to one. “They’re also slower to develop physically than girls prenatally, which means they’re more likely to die if they are preemies due to underdeveloped lung or brain development,” Dr. Legato explains.

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Women are less likely to be daredevils

Unintentional injuries are the third leading cause of death in men, according to the CDC; for women it’s only the sixth. Again, you can blame it on biology: The frontal lobes of the brain—which deal with responsibility and risk calculation—develop much more slowly in males than females, Dr. Legato says.

The result: Guys often take many more risks (which you probably already realize if your small son has taken one too many spins off his bike handlebars). “Almost inevitably, a male will take risks that a woman of his same age wouldn’t take,” Dr. Legato says.

Women succumb to heart disease later

Heart disease is the leading killer of both men and women, but men are more likely to develop it—and die from it—as early as their 30s and 40s. Women, on the other hand, typically develop heart disease 10 years later than men. They’re protected from it until menopause, since their bodies churn out estrogen, which helps keep arteries strong and flexible, says Dr. Legato.

HEALTH.COM: 15 Weird Things Linked to Heart Attacks

Women have stronger social networks

Friends make good medicine: People with strong social connections have a 50% lower chance of dying than those with few social ties, according to a 2010 study at Brigham Young University. “Most men tend to hold their stress and worries close to their chest, while women tend to reach out and talk to others,” Dr. Legato explains. The one exception: married men, which also explains why so many studies show that they’re likely to be healthier and live longer.

HEALTH.COM: How Friends Make You Healthier

Women take better care of their health

Men are 24% less likely than women to have visited a doctor within the past year and are 22% more likely to skip out on cholesterol testing, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. In fact more than a quarter (28%) of men don’t have a regular physician and about one in five didn’t have health insurance in 2012, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

You can blame it on the so-called John Wayne syndrome: “Men often deny illness; they minimize symptoms because they don’t want to go to a doctor and find out something is wrong,” Dr. Legato notes.

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This article originally appeared on Health.com

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