SOUTH OGDEN — While they deal with an immeasurable loss, family members say Cyle VanKomen will be remembered as fun-loving, fiercely loyal guardian.
VanKomen, 24, was a victim in a double homicide that occurred Friday, Dec. 9 in South Ogden. Officers responded to a call at 7:58 p.m. Friday, and found VanKomen and Kevin Nelson, 61, dead in a home at 3636 Ogden Ave. South Ogden Police Sgt. Wil DeHart said investigators believe the shooting was the result of a home invasion robbery.
A third man, who lived at the home with VanKomen, was seriously injured and taken to the hospital, but has not been identified by police.
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On Monday, VanKomen’s mother Ranae Finch said the family was working through funeral arrangements and continuing discussions with police.
“Right now, we still don’t know what’s going on, why it happened, anything like that,” Finch said. “My son was a peaceful kid. He was always preaching loyalty, family, and he wanted a peaceful world. That’s why this is so hard to figure out.”
VanKomen’s father, J.J. VanKomen, said the past few days have been agony, but the anguish has been eased somewhat by support from family and friends.
“I can’t answer where we go from here,” J.J. VanKomen said. “But I can say that the amount of support we’ve received has helped. We’ve got some great family and seeing the tributes on Facebook, that kind of thing — I had no idea of the kind of impact my son had on people. I knew, but I didn’t know how widespread it was.”
VanKomen attended Syracuse High School and was passionate about ice hockey, a life’s calling that began when he and his dad began attending Utah Grizzlies hockey games.
“We had season tickets and one time they had a night where you could go out on the ice and skate with the players,” J.J. VanKomen said. “At that point, he was like, 4 or 5 and he didn’t even have a pair of skates. But we got him some skates and he went down there and the captain of the team saw him off, kind of by himself and started working with him. As soon as he learned to skate, he started playing hockey.”
Finch said “the ice” was her son’s “second home.”
VanKomen’s uncle Nick VanKomen, who’s just three years older and described their relationship as one that resembled brothers, grew up playing hockey with VanKomen.
“He would stand up for people,” Nick VanKomen said. “If someone took a run at someone, he would be right there. He was only 5-5 or 5-6, but he acted like he was seven feet tall in those situations.”
Nick VanKomen is working to schedule a memorial hockey game in honor of his nephew. Right now, it’s tentatively scheduled for 8 p.m. Dec. 28 at the South Davis Recreation Center, 550 N 200 W, Bountiful. For more information, send an email to email@example.com.
Nick VanKomen said when his nephew would visit, his attention would turn toward Nick’s two young daughters.
“He always wanted to to see my daughters,” Nick VanKomen said. “He would teach my 5-year-old how to skate. She plays hockey now.”
Finch and J.J. VanKomen also spoke of their son’s soft spot for children, saying he would play games and talk with the younger kids whenever he would attend a family gathering.
He had an extra special place in his heart for his 10-year-old sister, Chloe, Finch said.
“He doted on her,” she said. “He would have these real conversations with her, on her level and he would tell her she could be anything or do anything she wanted.”
The family members described VanKomen’s death as a complete shock, and they’re still waiting to get more information on the case. J.J. VanKomen said his other son, Brock VanKomen, was planning on a night of bowling with his brother the night the murders took place.
“He was at the house and went to the store to get some Hot Pockets or something,” J.J. VanKomen said. “He was gone maybe 10 minutes and he came back and found him (dead).”
Finch said the other victim, Nelson, was a neighbor of her son’s.
“I only met him once, but he seemed like a nice guy,” she said.
Attempts to reach Nelson’s family and friends through Facebook on Monday were unsuccessful.
You can reach reporter Mitch Shaw at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 801-625-4233. Follow him on Twitter at @mitchshaw23 or like him on Facebook.