Code Enforcement Officer ‘Dedicated To Her Job’ Killed By Homeowner
WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah – West Valley City police won’t say right now what kind of issue brought code enforcement officer Jill Robinson to the home at 4012 Wendy Avenue this morning. But, a spokesperson for the family whose home was set on fire next door says the neighbor was mentally unstable and out to kill the couple who lived there.
As West Valley City Councilman Steve Buhler put it, Robinson was just out doing her job. Now, her family and friends are grieving her loss, and a husband and wife are burned out of their home on that street.
“There was a plume of smoke. I thought a small plane had gone down,” said Brittan Keane, who works nearby.
That was around 10:20. He drove to the plume of smoke and started shooting video on his phone.
“I was there before any cops,” he said.
“He walked behind the truck, and I said, ‘He’s going to get burned, oh my gosh, oh my gosh.’ Pulls out a gun and shoots her.”
Keane said the man then walked away casually, as 52-year-old Robinson lay dying.
Another witness saw the man pour gasoline on the neighbor’s house and light it.
“The neighbors were yelling, ‘He just shot that lady. He just shot that lady,” said Keane.
Police arrested the man, Kevin Wayne Billings, 64, who they say also set fire to the house next door.
Buhler said Robinson was on a routine code enforcement follow up.
“She worked for the city over 10 years,” said Steve Buhler, West Valley City council member, and Mayor Pro Tem. “She was just out here doing her job today.”
She was a mother and grandmother, and dedicated to her job, according to Sam Johnson, West Valley City Communications Director.
“She was very friendly, always quick to smile and wave at you,” he said. “She was a terrific person.”
Code enforcement officers respond to complaints about homes that are problematic eyesores, Johnson said.
“Anything from overgrown weeds, or it could be abandoned cars, or outside storage,” he said.
They are unarmed civilians, responsible for telling residents what they need to do to clean up and comply with city code.
If friction arises with a resident, “they would contact the police and leave,” said Johnson.
“Tragedy for all involved,” said Buhler. “For the people who lost their house.”
A spokesperson for that couple tells KSL they thought their neighbor was out to kill them. The husband was at home when he heard gunshots and an explosion. He tried unsuccessfully to get their dogs and cats their burning home.
The spokesperson said, the wife had been accosted by the neighbor last week, accused of turning him in to code enforcement, which they said was not true. The neighbors believe that was the origin of the dispute, the reason for code enforcement to arrive, and the reason the neighbor set fire to their home.