Entries in Murder-Suicide (9)


Beverly Hilton Shooting: Two Dead in Apparent Murder-Suicide

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Two bodies were discovered at the Beverly Hilton hotel Saturday in an apparent murder-suicide, just hours before the Daytime Emmy Awards ceremony, which is being held at the iconic hotel.

Police responded to a report of a shooting at the hotel late Friday night. A man and a woman were found dead, apparently from gunshot wounds, in a room at the hotel.

The victims’ names have not been released and police declined to provide any additional details on their relationship or what led up to the shooting.

A spokesperson for the Beverly Hilton told ABC News’ Los Angeles affiliate the awards show would continue as planned this evening.

In February, singer Whitney Houston was found face down in a bathtub at the hotel on the eve of the Grammy Awards.

The 48-year-old singer was discovered by a member of her staff.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


California Man Wanted for 1996 Murder Kills Family, Self

Fresno County Sheriff's Office(SELMA, Calif.) -- A Selma, Calif., man wanted for murder in India killed his wife and two of his children before turning the gun on himself this morning, police said.

Police got a 911 call at 6 o'clock Saturday morning from a man who said he'd killed four people and was about to commit suicide, according to the Fresno County Sheriff's Office.

Officers arrived at the home of Avtar Singh, but there was no answer at the door, according to a statement from the Fresno County Sheriff's Office. The SWAT team evacuated nearby houses and used a robot to determine there were five victims in the house.

A man police believe to be Singh was found dead in the living room, the statement said. Law enforcement found Singh's wife and 3-year-old son in bed in the master bedroom, and his 15-year-old son in a rear bedroom. They all had gunshot wounds to the head and had died.

The SWAT team heard sounds coming from another bedroom and found Singh's eldest son "barely alive" and suffering from "severe head trauma," according to the release. They administered first aid and took him to the Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno for surgery. His condition was not immediately available.

When Selma Police responded to a domestic violence call last year, they learned Singh was wanted on an Interpol hold for the murder of human rights activist Jalil Andrabi, according ABC Affiliate KFSN in Fresno. The State Department told police it wasn't necessary to hold him, and he bailed out.

He told KFSN that he had thrown a toy at his wife, and the domestic violence issue was dropped. Singh, an Indian Army captain, also said he was a scapegoat in the murder, and feared his blown cover would mean danger from al Qaeda.

Next door neighbor Barbara Childers, 76, told ABC News that she was "devastated" by the murder-suicide. She said she thought Singh had settled the murder accusations. He'd told her he had to "kill the person or get killed," but she was confused about the details.

"You couldn't ask for better neighbors," Childers said. "I just couldn't believe that that happened."

She said Singh had just fertilized her lawn, and his sons often cut her grass for her.

"They just did things like that. They didn't want to take money." she said. "The young boys were just as polite as could be."

Childers said her brother overheard Singh scolding his 3-year-old Friday night, but it struck her as odd because Singh "adored" his son.

"We couldn't understand why he was cussing at him because he was the apple of his eye," Childers said.

She said she heard gunshots when her brother picked her up for the evacuation, but the block was eerily quiet before that.

"I felt like I was in 'Twilight Zone,'" she said.

Neighbor Josh Gonzalez, 17, said the Singh boys occasionally played basketball with him, but their relationship was made up mostly of polite waves from across the street. He said he watched from his house as the SWAT team fired shots into a window and used smoke grenades before entering the Singh home.

"I was just worried because I really didn't know what was going on," Gonzalez said. "It was kind of scary because they had their guns out. We never had this happen in our neighborhood, something tragic like that."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Arizona Murder-Suicide Dad Had a Brain Tumor

File photo. Comstock/Thinkstock(TEMPE, Ariz.) -- Friends of an Arizona family that perished in a fiery murder-suicide said the father's brain tumor may have led him to kill his family, something completely out of character for a man who was remembered as "one of the nicest guys."

Tempe Police are remaining tight-lipped about the circumstances that led James Butwin, 47, to allegedly kill his wife, Yafit, 40; and three children Malissa, 16; Daniel, 14; and Matthew, 7.

Yael Ozair, 15, who was friends with Daniel and Malissa and knew the family, said she remembered hearing stories that the father was recently "speaking jibberish" and having trouble fighting a brain tumor.

"This whole thing is illness. I know it's not God," Ozair said. "The family is too good for this to be true."

Butwin was battling a brain tumor and in the middle of a divorce that was putting the normal strain of a separation on the entire family.

"Daniel said, 'It's really hard at my house right now because my parents are getting a divorce and they're always fighting,'" Ozair told ABC News.

The charred bodies were discovered on Saturday in a burnt SUV in the Arizona desert. The case gained national attention when Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu claimed the bodies were related to Mexican drug trafficking and used the case to criticize the Obama administration's border-security actions.

Authorities found evidence inside the Butwin family's home that leads them to believe it could be a murder-suicide, said Sgt. Jeff Glover of the Tempe Police Department. He declined to say what police found inside the home.

The family was reported missing by a friend who received a concerning note from James Butwin detailing how to run his real estate business.

Yafit Butwin filed for divorce on Sept. 22, 2011 and sought half of the couple's assets, despite a reported prenuptial agreement.

Despite Yafit Butwin's request that he leave the couple's home, James Butwin continued to reside there until the family's heartbreaking end.

More than 600 mourners packed Temple Emanuel, where Butwin was on the board, to participate in a Jewish service of grief on Wednesday.

Steven Gotfried, who was on the board with Butwin, said the rabbi addressed the common shock felt by the community.

"He said we were just in the beginning stages of shock and it will evolve and we will evolve together in the shock of this."

Funerals will be held at a later date.

Friends said they are leaning on each other, trying to cope with losing what one neighbor called "an amazing family with so much heart."

For Ozair, that means being with her tight-knit group of friends who went to school with Daniel and Malissa -- and writing. She penned a eulogy for the family.

"They always say the good die young, but the words tie the tongue," she wrote. "We wish we could have known, but it's too late as it is shown."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Arizona Militia Leader and Candidate for Sheriff Killed Family During 911 Call

Comstock/Thinkstock(GILBERT, Ariz.) -- Anti-immigration militia leader J.T. Ready killed his girlfriend and three others during a violent domestic argument as someone in the home called 911, Arizona police said Thursday.

Police in Gilbert, Ariz., were joined by FBI agents and members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force in sorting through the carnage of the Wednesday killings.

Military-grade weapons and ammunition along with two barrels of chemicals found in the backyard have been removed from Ready's home.

"Right now we believe it's a domestic violence-related situation," Sgt. Bill Balafas of the Gilbert, Ariz., Police Department told ABC News.

An argument ensued inside the home J.T. Ready shared with his girlfriend Wednesday afternoon, police said.

"There was a 911 call regarding that argument. In the midst of that call, a shooting occurred. Mr. Ready shot and killed all four victims and then killed himself," Balafas said, adding that this will have to be confirmed through the medical examiner's report and forensics tests. No motive was given.

Three generations were among the dead. Ready's live-in girlfriend of two years, Lisa Mederos, 47, was killed, along with her daughter Amber Mederos, 23, and granddaughter Lilly, 1.

The body of Amber Mederos' boyfriend, Jim Hiott, 24, a veteran who served in Afghanistan, was found outside of the house near where Ready is believed to have killed himself, police said.

Balafas said forensic tests and an autopsy were being conducted.

Ready, who founded the U.S. Border Guard, a militia of armed anti-immigration activists, was running for sheriff of Pinal County and had neo-Nazi ties. He was frequently seen in photos carrying heavy weapons.

On his Facebook page touting his candidacy, JT Ready for Sheriff, Ready and his campaign often railed against Mexican drug cartels as well as illegal immigrants.

On the page Thursday his campaign supporters said, "Reports are unconfirmed that a cartel assassination squad murdered JT Ready and several of his friends."

Police discounted the report.

Brittany Mederos, 19, heard gunshots and cries from her room as her family was gunned down but survived the shooting.

Heather Morton, a friend of Amber Mederos, described Ready as a "control freak" on her Facebook page.

Amber Mederos served as Ready's campaign treasurer, according to a Jan. 11 filing. Ready amended the filing on March 12 and replaced Mederos with Kenneth Harris, a friend of several years.

Harris told ABC News he held the job for "no more than 48 hours" and said he parted ways with Ready after the candidate refused to take his advice.

"I expect a candidate to conduct themselves in a serious way. There was a falling out," Harris said, adding that the biggest issue was poor record keeping.

He said he was unaware of the circumstances regarding Mederos' departure from the campaign and declined to speculate, other than to say he didn't believe Ready slaughtered the Mederos family.

"I do not see him ever, ever resorting to domestic violence. I don't see him ever hurting a child," he said.

An autopsy on Ready's body is scheduled for Friday, police said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Head of Florida High School Killed by Fired Employee

Comstock/Thinkstock(JACKSONVILLE, Fla.) -- An employee at a high-powered Jacksonville, Fla., private high school who was fired Tuesday morning returned to the campus that afternoon and killed the headmistress with an assault rifle he carried in a guitar case, then turned the gun on himself, police said.

“There was an employee that was terminated this morning,” Jacksonville Sheriff’s Department Undersheriff Dwain Senterfitt said in a videotaped statement posted Tuesday on the department website. “They returned to the school [around 1:30 p.m.] He went to the headmaster, headmistress’ office -- Dale Regan -- and basically had an assault rifle in a guitar case. He shot and killed Ms. Regan and then he killed himself....Our prayers go out to the Episcopal [High School] community.”

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office identified the shooter as former Episcopal High School Spanish teacher Shane Schumerth, 29.

In an emailed statement, the school said students and faculty were safe and the campus was secure.

“Our deepest sympathies are with her family and we ask for your support and prayers during this time,” read the emailed statement. “The entire school family mourns the loss of our friend and leader.”

The school’s statement said classes would remain suspended through spring break until March 19, but that counseling and pastoral care would be provided to students and staff.

Authorities said the school had been on lockdown but that it had been lifted and parents had been allowed to pick up their children.

Regan worked as head of Episcopal for seven years. She had been an English teacher at the school for 27 years. In a 2010 Florida Times-Union story, she called the job an “exciting adventure.”

According to the school’s website, Episcopal enrolls 900 students for grades 6-12 and offers 21 AP and 19 Honors classes.

Its graduates have a 100-percent college placement and many head to Ivy League schools, and all 90 faculty members have four-year degrees or higher, the school website says.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Josh Powell Was Calm, Relaxed, Optimistic Before Firebombing

File photo. Comstock/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) -- A week before he killed himself and his two children in a fiery explosion, Josh Powell told ABC News he was optimistic about the future and was looking forward to a day when he would regain custody of his boys.

Powell, 36, spoke with ABC News shortly after a court hearing Wednesday in which he was ordered to undergo psychosexual testing before he could regain custody of his sons, Charles, 7, and Braden, 5.

Less than a week later, Powell let his sons into his house for a supervised visit, but shut and locked the door before the social worker could enter. Moments later, the house smelled of gas and erupted in a ball of flames. The two boys and Powell died in the explosion.

In his final conversation with ABC News, Powell said he had no idea what images had been found on his hard drive that prompted the court to keep his children away from him and order him to undergo a psychosexual examination.

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Despite the court ruling, Powell gave no indication of the rage that would drive him to blow up himself, his children, and his home.

Rather than being angry or upset by the court order, Powell was calm and more relaxed than usual and was optimistically looking forward to when he would regain custody of his sons.

Powell was the sole person of interest in the disappearance of his wife, Susan Cox Powell, 38, in 2009. He was never charged in her disappearance, but lost custody of his children after his father, Steven Powell was arrested on child porn charges last fall. At the hearing Wednesday, a letter from police said that images found on Josh's computer were concerning for the welfare of the children.

Powell told ABC News that he had no idea what the images were, and wondered why police were bringing them up now, two years after they were reportedly found on his computer. He said he did not remember any inappropriate images at all on his computer from that time.

Powell also said he regretted the fraught relationship between his wife's parents, Chuck and Judy Cox, and himself in the years since Susan's disappearance. He said he was actually happy that his children had their maternal grandparents in their lives, a significant reversal from earlier statements in which he disparaged the Coxes and said they were poisoning the children with hatred for him.

According to an attorney representing Powell's in-laws Chuck and Judy Cox, one of the young sons was beginning to verbalize details about the night their mother disappeared, including an allegation that Susan was in the trunk of the family car, and disappeared shortly after they arrived at their campground.

"They were beginning to verbalize more," Steve Downing said Monday. "The oldest boy talked about that they went camping and that mommy was in the trunk. Mom and dad got out of the car and mom disappeared."

The boys were 2 and 4 at the time of their mother's disappearance.

In his final conversation with ABC News before his death, Powell continued to talk about his wife, Susan, in the present tense as if she were still alive. Susan has not been seen or heard from since 2009, but police have never found evidence that she is dead.

The explosion Sunday at Josh Powell's home was purposeful, according to Pierce County, Wash., authorities. The social worker who brought the children to a supervised visit at Josh's house was locked out of the home by Powell. She immediately smelled gas and called her supervisor to report it.

Shortly after, the home exploded.

Josh Powell's lawyer, Jeffrey Bassett, said he received an email from his client minutes before the explosion that said "I'm sorry, goodbye," but he didn't see it until two hours later, when he was informed of the blast.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Missouri Couple Found Dead in Alleged Shooting Range Murder-Suicide

John Foxx/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) -- A Kansas City, Mo., couple who met through a dating website were found dead Tuesday at a shooting range in an apparent murder-suicide. The woman is the alleged victim, police said.

Bambi Hilburn, 38, had only known Victory Ocampo, 42, for two months, but the mother of two was in high spirits when she called her sister, Christy Gregor, the day before her death.

"She was telling us how happy she was and how everything was going great for her in her life," Gregor said through tears. "She said he treated her like a queen and kept saying, 'I'm so happy. This is the happiest I've ever been.'"

Hilburn had recently come out of a bad 20-year relationship, and Ocampo was the first person she dated since her breakup, Gregor said. Hilburn leaves behind two daughters, ages 5 and 16, who are being cared for by her sister.

The couple had driven 20 minutes to the Bullet Hole shooting range in Overland Park, Kan. Police said they received a call reporting a suicide at around 11:20 a.m. Tuesday morning, but upon arriving at the scene, they determined that the deaths were a murder-suicide.

"We don't believe there was anyone else involved. Everything indicates that they were there together," Matthew Bregel, the public information officer for the Overland Park Police Department, said. "At this point, the police report lists the crime as murder in the first degree and the female party as the victim."

Bregel said that the small indoor facility has four shooting lanes that are sectioned off into separate areas, but he was unsure whether a centrally located desk could supervise all four areas.

When a medical squad arrived, both people were pronounced dead at the scene.

This is not the first time the Bullet Hole has been the site of deadly shootings. In March 2010, a man committed suicide at the range and three others killed themselves there in 1997, according to the Kansas City Star newspaper.

The Bullet Hole did not respond to requests for comment.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Utah Cowboy Murder-Suicide Shocks Community

Jupiterimages/Comstock/Thinkstock(SALT LAKE CITY) -- A tight-knit community in Utah is reeling after the mysterious murder of a cowboy from a well-known family and the apparent suicide of the man who killed him. A woman in the house witnessed the killing but escaped unharmed.

While authorities remained tight-lipped, the talk of the town is that the tragedy is a love triangle gone terribly wrong. Jacob Milchak, 24, allegedly shot and killed Tate Jensen, 31, before apparently killing himself nearby on the night of Aug. 28.

"There's a romantic triangle situation going on there. That had to be it," said Gary Prazen, Milchak's former boss and a friend of both families. "I think the connection was more the woman … this was one of them things."

Jensen was a cowboy from a wealthy and prominent family in Price, Utah, a small town 120 miles southeast of Salt Lake City. He was raised on a cattle ranch and his parents own Tavaputs Ranch, a 10,000 acre property that is both a tourist ranch and a working cattle operation.

Jensen was also an area director for the Utah Cattlemen's Association who "loved life, loved his family, loved his friends and loved being a cowboy," according to his obituary.

"He was a very good kid, very popular," Prazen said. "He belonged to a big ranching family, which owns a lot of ground up in the mountains."

Prazen described Milchak as "very smart and very easy-going." Milchak worked as an electrician and was an avid outdoorsman. Passionate about his work, his family "knew he was destined for [it] after putting the keys into the light socket at the age of two," according to his obituary.

"We're still kind of shook up. This whole thing is unbelievable," Prazen said. "It just doesn't sound true."

On Aug. 28 at around 11 p.m., police were notified that shots were fired at a home in Carbon County; a man had been shot and a woman was still inside the house.

When deputies arrived, they located Jensen inside the house with "fatal wounds," and a short distance from the home Milchak was found with "what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound," according to a Carbon County Sheriff's Office press release.

Police are still investigating the crime but said that, at this time, "the evidence indicates this incident is a murder/suicide."

"On Sunday night, Tate was murdered at his home in Price," wrote Robert Kirby, a friend of the Jensen family and a columnist for the Salt Lake Tribune. "The details are still sketchy, but the easy-going cowboy I knew was shot to death over something so ridiculous that it will probably never be fully comprehended."

The Carbon County newspaper, the Sun Advocate, identified the female in the house was Mandy Bera Jessen. She allegedly saw Milchak approach the house and shoot Jensen through the window before entering the house. She was able to get out of the house and drive away. She called 911 and met authorities in a nearby parking lot.

When ABC News called Jensen, a woman answered the phone and said she was not Jensen, but said "it's her family." When asked about the case, the woman said, "No, I'm sorry. You'll have to talk to the police department" and hung up the phone.

"I know Jake was involved with a girl, but I don't know if it was that girl," said Danny Blanton, in regards to Jessen. "It's a lot of 'he said, she said.'" Blanton is Prazen's son-in-law and works for his company. He was Milchak's direct supervisor when he worked there. He is a friend of both families.

Blanton was at Jensen's memorial Thursday and said the family was in a state of shock. Just last weekend, the family celebrated Jensen's sister's wedding.

"They went from one weekend -- laughing, happy-go-lucky at a wedding -- to the next weekend, this," Blanton said. "You never know what goes on behind closed doors, but, as far as the two of them, I don't know of anyone who disliked either of them."

The Milchak and Jensen families could not be reached for comment. Both families are holding memorial services Friday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Five Bodies Discovered in Ohio Home

Thinkstock/Getty Images(OTTAWA COUNTY, Ohio) -- Five bodies were discovered in an Ottawa Co., Ohio, home Saturday, the scene of what appears to be a murder suicide.

Preliminary reports indicate that a father shot and killed three children and his wife, before turning the gun on himself, according to ABC News affiliate WTVG in Toledo.

The situation is currently being investigated. A press conference is scheduled for Saturday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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