HUNTSVILLE, Utah — A Utah man wanted for the murder of his wife died Thursday in a crash.
Scott William Russell, 53, of Huntsville, was charged with murder, four counts of felony discharging of a firearm with injury, illegal possession of a firearm and possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia, court records stated. His wife is identified in her obituary as Gina Whitaker Russell.
The obituary describes Scott Russell as the “love of her life.”
According to a warrant for Russell’s arrest, he was accused of shooting his wife five times in the back two days before his own death. He then fled the scene and appeared “to be actively avoiding law enforcement, as he shut his phone off to avoid tracking,” the document states.
The Deseret News reported that Russell’s son, who lives out of state, witnessed at least part of the shooting over the phone.
Charging documents obtained by the newspaper indicated that sheriff’s deputies were called to the couple’s home just after 9 p.m. Tuesday by someone who had heard from Russell’s son.
Russell’s son said his father had been “acting very erratic on the phone call and kept repeating statements,” the News reported. “Scott repeatedly told his son that he was going to come to his state to give him a hug and other strange statements like how Scott’s ‘soul was on the line.’”
The son asked Russell about his stepmother and Russell could be heard asking his wife if he was “high.” Gina Russell could be heard saying her husband was high.
Russell’s son heard his father making noises, some of which he believed to be the sound of ammunition and a gun cocking, the court records said. There was a commotion, punctuated by periods of quiet, until the son heard what sounded like a door slamming and his father picking up the phone again.
“Scott’s son was very concerned at this point as Scott’s erratic behavior increased and he continued to repeat incoherent statements,” the documents said, according to the News. “Scott again spoke about coming to meet his son and told him that he was going to do so because he would be going to prison. Scott’s son asked him about the victim again and Scott told him that he shot the victim.”
Russell then said he was joking but later confessed a second time that he’d killed his wife.
“Scott’s son told Scott that he loved him, and Scott replied that he loved his son, too, and then ended the phone call by telling his son, ‘I’ll see you in hell,’” the court documents said.
Deputies who went to the couple’s home found Gina Russell, whose name has not been released by authorities, dead. She had five gunshot wounds “in the back of her body, including one at the base of her skull,” the charging documents said.
Eight shell casings were recovered and bullet holes were found in a bathroom wall, the News reported.
Weber County officials on Wednesday morning issued a bulletin for Scott Russell in which they said he was driving a black 2017 Toyota Land Cruiser. He was described as armed and dangerous.
“At this time, there is reason to believe that Scott William Russell is heading to Colorado from Utah,” a statement from the department said.
About 36 hours later, Russell was dead.
Deputies were called around 6 p.m. to a scene off Highway 39.
“Officers went to the scene to find a black Toyota Land Cruiser had crashed 300 (to) 400 yards away from the roadway,” authorities said in a statement. “Upon further investigation of the vehicle, officers found a deceased male in the driver’s seat, later to be IDed as Scott William Russell, with injuries consistent with that of a traffic accident.”
It was not clear Monday if the crash was accidental or if it was being considered a suicide. The case remains under investigation.