Oakley • Couple had been together about 10 years, but relationship "broke down," relative says.
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An Oakley couple who died Sunday in an apparent murder-suicide had been together for about 10 years, a family member said, but recently ended their engagement.
Summit County Sheriff's Sgt. Ron Bridge said Sean Thomas Kenealey, 45, and his 40-year-old girlfriend, Toni Lyn Cavagnaro, both of Oakley, were found dead with gunshots in the head. A large-caliber handgun was believed used in the slayings.
Police believe Kenealey shot Cavagnaro, then turned the gun on himself sometime late Saturday evening. Bridge said investigators pieced together the timeline by looking at phone records and talking to neighbors, among other things.
Cavagnaro's sister, Lori Cavagnaro, told The Salt Lake Tribune that the couple had been together for about 10 years and at one point were engaged. However, the relationship "broke down about a month ago," Lori said, at which time her sister returned an engagement ring to Kenealey.
Lori Cavagnaro did not have additional information about the slayings, but said that her sister "loved life and her community" and would be missed every day.
Bridge said a 911 call reporting the discovery of the couple's bodies came in Sunday at 1:15 p.m. Kenealey and Cavagnaro had been living at 4452 North and Highway 32 in Oakley. The 911 caller was a friend of the couple who went to their home after not hearing from them over the weekend.
The couple were found dead in the garage below the residence.
The remains were turned over to the state Medical Examiner's Office for autopsies.
Bridge did not release any other details about the killings, other than to say investigators were treating the case as a murder-suicide.
Neighbor Susan Wade said Monday that she last talked to Kenealey via phone about 5:15 p.m. Saturday. Kenealey had been planning a river trip and was going to board his newly rescued dog, Wiley, with Wade while he was gone. Kenealey was supposed to drop the dog off Saturday, Wade said.
But when Kenealey called, he said he had mistaken the date of the trip and would be dropping his dog off a week later, on April 20. Wade said Kenealey mentioned that things were "hectic." Kenealey also didn't say anything about Cavagnaro.
"I talked about Toni," Wade recalled, "but he didn't respond."
Kenealey had a minimal criminal history, according to Utah court documents. In 2011, he pleaded guilty to impaired driving, a class B misdemeanor. In exchange for the plea, prosecutors dropped three other DUI-related misdemeanors. A judge sentenced him to a year of probation for the conviction.
Kenealey has one other DUI case from 1991. Court records further show that he filed for divorce in 2003.
A search of court records for Cavagnaro's name produced no results.
According to Wade, she saw Kenealey working on the residence where he and Cavagnaro lived as recently as last fall. Wade went on to say that most recently Kenealey was excited about having rescued his new dog.
Lori Cavagnaro said that her sister loved the outdoors, motorcycles and animals. She had worked as a bartender and enjoyed traveling.
"She was my favorite person in the whole world," Lori Cavagnaro said.
Wade recalled that in 2012 Cavagnaro excitedly told her about a rafting trip during which she spent the entire time paddle boarding. Cavagnaro was excited to show Wade her muscles. Cavagnaro loved her two dogs, according to Wade, who added that she hopes the pets don't go to the pound.
The killings were the first in the Oakley area since 1990 when two parolees broke into a cabin near town and shot and killed Kaye Tiede, 49, and her mother, Beth Potts, 76. Three of the women's family members survived.
Von Lester Taylor is on Utah's death row for the crimes. His accomplice, Edward Steven Deli, is serving a life term.