Tuesday, September 05, 2000

Sheriff: 7 fire deaths murder-suicide

Parents and five children perish in east Ohio blaze

By Kate Roberts
The Associated Press

        AVA, Ohio — Noble County sheriff's officials are investigating what they say is a murder-suicide that left seven family members dead Monday in their burned out trailer near this eastern Ohio town.

        The bodies of Richard Pangle, 37, his wife, Sheryl, 29, and their five children were found at about 3 a.m. after firefighters were called to their home.

        Preliminary autopsy reports show the couple's 5- year-old twin girls, Trina and Trinda, died of single gunshot wounds and not of injuries suffered in the fire, said Noble County Sheriff Landon T. Smith.

        Sheriff Smith said it appears the girls were dead before the fire started. He would not say whether any other family members had been shot or who was responsible.

        Autopsies are being done on all seven family members' bodies. The sheriff said preliminary results on the others would probably come back today or Wednesday.

        “Somebody in that house we feel was involved in firearms and the last man standing probably set the fire,” Sheriff Smith said. “Because of where we found the bodies, they didn't appear to die of smoke inhalation.”

        A .25-caliber pistol, a 12-gauge shotgun and two other shotguns were found near the bodies of the parents and their oldest daughter in the living room, along with spent cartridges, Sheriff Smith said.

        He said there had been no reports of any domestic violence at the house, but the couple were discussing a divorce.

        The bodies of two children were found in one bedroom and the bodies of two other children were found in a second bedroom.

        The trailer was about 20 yards from the end of a dirt road in Buffalo Township and a mile north of Ava. Ava is about 75 miles east of Columbus.

        Sheriff Smith said no one heard any shots. A person living in a camper about 20 feet from the trailer saw the fire and ran to a trailer across the road to call for help. That trailer is owned by Mrs. Pangle's mother.

        The twins' siblings were identified as Kayla, 12; Brett, 10, and Derek, 7.

        Family and friends gathered Monday near the trailer and the mother's trailer. Some hugged and cried.

        Sheriff's Detective Steven Hannum said investigators were having a difficult time emotionally.

        “Noble County is a small community. These folks are known by many of the people who live in Noble County,” he said.


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