Wednesday, July 26, 2000

Mother, daughter found dead

Police: Apparent murder-suicide

By Lew Moores
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        GREEN TOWNSHIP — Police are investigating an apparent murder-suicide involving a mother and her daughter that was discovered by the woman's husband Tuesday morning.

        Deborah Wetzel, 53, and her daughter, Jennifer Wetzel, 28, were found at 8:24 a.m. in an upstairs bedroom on Sanrio Court by Thomas Wetzel, Deborah's husband and Jennifer's father. Mr. Wetzel called 911.

(Michael Snyder photo)
| ZOOM |
        A small handgun was used in the shooting, said Steve Barnett, spokesman for the Hamilton County sheriff's department. He would not say where on their bodies the two were shot.

        “There were no signs of forced entry, no other indications of foul play,” Mr. Barnett said.

        He said that the daughter did have “some type of mental handicap.”

        By late afternoon, Mr. Barnett said a preliminary investigation revealed that the mother died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and the daughter died of a gunshot wound. He said that notes had been left, but he declined to say what the contents were or who had written them.

        “We have an idea, but we're not disclosing that,” Mr. Barnett said of a possible reason for the murder-suicide.

        The Wetzel family had lived for several years in the upper middle-class neighborhood on Sanrio Court in the northern part of the township. On Tuesday morning, yellow police barrier tape went up and investigators collected evidence in the two-story brick home, near a cul-de-sac on the street.

        There is “a murder and a suicide in my house,” Mr. Wetzel told the 911 dispatcher.

        The dispatcher asked, “What's happened, sir, do you know?”

        “Yes,” Mr. Wetzel said. “I was splitting with my wife. I was out last night in a separate residence. And I came home and she had killed my daughter and killed herself.”

        At another point in the conversation, Mr. Wetzel said his wife “sort of made reference that I might have a high price to pay. I didn't know what she meant by that. I just assumed. ... I didn't know what she meant.”

        The door to the two-car garage was open, with a Mazda and Honda parked inside. An empty bicycle rack was on back of the Honda. The front yard was landscaped with plants, and a lawn goose was by the front door.

        Neighbors declined to talk about the shooting or the family.

        “This is a nice neighborhood,” said Col. Ray Hoffbauer, commander of the Hamilton County sheriff's road patrol and detectives division.

        Dr. William Beachy lives toward the other end of the street. He did not know the Wetzel family, but he said it was a quiet neighborhood where motorists slow as they come down the street.

        “It's a typical, all-American kind of neighborhood,” said Dr. Beachy, who has lived on Sanrio for about a year and is senior pastor of Monfort Heights United Methodist Church on West Fork Road. He estimated the homes on Sanrio to be about 30 to 35 years old.

        “Folks take care of each other,” Dr. Beachy said.


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