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Weeks before his daughter's death, Evan Banks took her camping in Utah's west desert, along with her children and boyfriend.

"We had a really good time," he said. "They were having their problems, but no different from anyone else."

Banks was close to his daughter, 28-year-old Alida "Ali" Dalton, and they "talked about everything," he said. A creative person who liked to write, she doted on her two children, who are 8 and 5 years old.

Banks liked her boyfriend of about two years, Zak Cabell, with whom he shared an interest in cars.

"He and I even went out and talked about how things were going. His major concern was he was down on his luck, had lost his job," he said.

The Taylorsville couple had their share of troubles this summer — one of their dogs died, and their apartment was ransacked in a burglary. It was after that, Banks said, that the couple got a gun for protection.

But the relationship had faltered, and Dalton and Cabell were breaking up, Banks said, when Cabell came over to the house the two had shared about 3 a.m. Saturday.

Police arrived about 30 minutes later after a woman called to report an argument spiraling out of control. Dalton had been shot and later died.

While officers were at the home, they heard a gunshot nearby. They found Cabell in the playground area of Arcadia Elementary School, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

It's something his mother can't begin to understand.

"He's never been in a fight in his life, never yelled at me, never raised his voice," said Denise Poulos. "We're all in disbelief. They seemed to truly love each other. I don't get it."

Cabell was self-conscious about his appearance growing up, and Dalton was his second real girlfriend, she said. They met through friends, hit it off and moved in together relatively quickly, she said.

Cabell built computers for a living and had recently lost his job but had picked up some work, his mother said. He had experienced a brief bout of depression in the past, but it seemed to be behind him.

Over the past year, Poulos had also grown close to her son's girlfriend and her children.

"I loved him with all my heart. I loved Ali, too. This is really hard," she said. She wondered how to begin to express that to Dalton's family.

"How can I say I'm sorry my son took your daughter and the mother of those children?" she said. "Sorry is just so hollow. What Zak did was horrific."

Meanwhile, Dalton's family is also left mourning and struggling to understand.

"My daughter was a fantastic young lady, and it's just tragic," Banks said. Her children are now with their father. The kids are "my main worry. Of course, we have a long road."

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