The Frederick News-Post
Originally published April 22, 2009
Gina Gallucci-White, News-Post Staff
Christopher Wood and Francie Billotti-Wood were $460,000 in debt at the time of their deaths, according to the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office. Wood, 34, also suffered from depression and anxiety and had been prescribed four anti-depressant medications, Sheriff Chuck Jenkins said during a Tuesday afternoon press conference.Because toxicology reports will not be available for several weeks, detectives do not know if he was taking his medication at the time of his death. The drugs seized were Cymbalta (duloxetine), alprazolam, paroxetine, and buspirone, officials said. Detectives believe Wood, 34, killed Billotti-Wood, 33, and their three children, Chandler, 5, Gavin, 4, and Fiona, 2, Thursday night or early Friday morning. Billotti-Wood was last seen by a relative about 8:45 p.m. Thursday.
Wood apparently used a small caliber pistol to shoot Billotti-Wood and Chandler twice, Gavin three times and Fiona once. Detectives concluded the four deaths most likely occurred while they slept. All four were shot in the head and died from the gunshot wounds. Wounds described as “traumatic cuts” were made after they died.A reporter asked Jenkins if it was true that the three children’s throats were slashed almost to the point of decapitation.Jenkins took a deep breath, looked down, then up and addressed the question.”Listen I, I really don’t know what this purpose serves to the public,” Jenkins said. “I will simply answer yes.”The reporter then asked if Billotti-Wood did not suffer the same fate as her children.”I cannot confirm that,” he said. Detectives took a kitchen knife and hand pruning saw from the house. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has ruled the four deaths as homicides, Jenkins said. After killing his family, Wood waited to kill himself. He went on the Internet at some point and a babysitter came to the home around 9 a.m. Friday to make sure she would be caring for the three children while the couple went to a church event later that night. The babysitter told investigators his demeanor was normal.
Detectives believe Wood died from a self-inflicted shotgun wound after that encounter. His death has been ruled a suicide. Both the pistol and shotgun were seized by the sheriff’s office and their ownership is being traced by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Jenkins said. They were the only guns found in the home.These are the first homicides in Middletown ever, authorities believe.”We are not psychologists,” Jenkins said. “We are investigators. I will never attempt to speculate why. I don’t think his family could ever answer or speculate why, so I would not even stand here and try and address that.”The family was found dead by Billotti-Wood’s father, Sam, around 9 a.m. Saturday. He went to the yellow two-story house at 13 Washington St. to check on them after he was unable to reach them for a day. Upon discovering the family, he left and called the sheriff’s office.”No one expected this,” Jenkins said. “No one saw this coming in either family. No one, no one ever dreamed of anything like this.” Deputies found six notes written by Wood; none indicated the murders were premeditated. Four were addressed to his wife and children, describing his love and sorrow. Another was written to his mother, father and sister apologizing for what he had done and also telling of his love and sorrow for the family. “The sixth and final note can be best characterized as a suicide note describing his day-to-day stresses, his day-to-day frustrations,” Jenkins said. “Their financial problems and how he was going to raise his family. He also stated that he had tried a number of medications to control his depression and he had, in fact, felt it had gotten worse over time.”
Detectives did not know if Wood was seeing a psychiatrist at the time of his death. That portion of the investigation continues. There was no known history of domestic abuse in the family. Wood was employed at CSX Railroad as a sales accountant handling transportation of chemicals and fertilizer. His annual salary was $97,000. Billotti-Wood was a stay-at-home mom and an ardent volunteer. The couple had a house in Jacksonville, Fla., which had not been sold, Jenkins said. CSX had plans to buy it, but those fell through.Foreclosure proceedings on their Jacksonville home began in October, according to Duval County, Fla., public records.The original mortgage on the Jacksonville house was for $208,354 in March 2005, the documents state. Two additional mortgages were later made on the property — $50,000 in June 2005 and $108,000 in November 2006. The $50,000 was repaid in November 2006 while the $108,000 mortgage remains open.The family had been renting the Middletown house since August 2008, Jenkins said.
They lived in West Virginia for a short time after their move north from Jacksonville.Chandler was a kindergarten pupil at Middletown Primary School while Gavin and Fiona were enrolled in programs at the Middletown United Methodist Church Preschool.The Wood and Billotti families ask that only family and friends attend the funeral, Jenkins said. He also released a statement from the families.It describes Wood and Billotti-Wood’s love for each other and their devotion to their children.”Francie and Chris will always be remembered as beloved children, treasured siblings, and affectionate parents,” the statement reads. “While their time on this Earth may seem too short for our finite perspective, family and friends continue to focus on the beautiful moments shared with the children, and with Chris and Francie. We will always remember the sound of their laughter. And we rejoice in the knowledge that we will see them again someday when our Heavenly Father calls each of us home to his side.”The statement praises God for the gift of the family and how each member touched lives for the better.”In these most difficult times, the Billotti and Wood families stand united, loving on and comforting one another as Christ Jesus directs,” it reads. “It is through the strength of family, the love of friends, and the support of our hometown communities, that we are able to boldly embrace the future, choosing to live each day without regrets. Your thoughts and prayers are appreciated.”Staff writer Justin M. Palk contributed to this story.
To view original article click here
Middletown tragedy: Toxicology report finds seven drugs in Wood’s system — The Frederick News-Post
Posted: Thursday, June 25, 2009 12:00 am
Gina Gallucci-White News-Post Staff
MIDDLETOWN — Christopher A. Wood, who authorities say killed his wife and three children before committing suicide, tested positive for seven different drugs in his urine at the time of his April death.
According to a toxicology report obtained by The Frederick News-Post on Wednesday, Wood had in his system oxycodone, zolpidem, alprazolam, nortriptyline, amitriptyline, bupropion, and acetaminophen. Two are pain relievers, one is for sleeping, one is for anxiety and three are anti-depressants.
The autopsy and toxicology report were received from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner following a Public Information Act request.
Frederick County Sheriff’s Office Cpl. Jason West said Wood did not overdose on medication.
All evidence indicated that Wood was taking his medicine as prescribed, West said.
All of the drugs were legally prescribed to Wood, West said. He was under a doctor’s care locally for his depression and had also been seen at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
West declined to name the doctor Wood saw locally.
Frederick County sheriff’s detectives believe Wood, 34, killed his wife, Francie Billotti-Wood, 33, and their three children, Chandler, 5, Gavin, 4, and Fiona, 2, on the night of April 16 or early April 17. Billotti-Wood was last seen by a relative about 8:45 p.m. April 16.
The sheriff’s office will close the case as a murder-suicide, according to a press release sent Wednesday afternoon.
Wood apparently used a small-caliber pistol to shoot Billotti-Wood and Chandler twice, Gavin three times and Fiona once.
Detectives concluded the four deaths most likely occurred while they slept. All four were shot in the head and died from the gunshot wounds.
After killing his family in their Middletown home, Wood waited to kill himself.
He went on the Internet at some point and a baby sitter came to the home around 9 a.m. April 17 to make sure she would be caring for the three children while the couple went to a church event later that night. The baby sitter told investigators his demeanor was normal.
Wood left behind six notes: four to his wife and children; one to his mother, father and sister; and a suicide note describing his day-to-day frustrations.
The family was $460,000 in debt and Wood suffered from depression, which, according to his suicide note, had gotten worse though he had tried medications.
Detectives think Wood died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound after talking with the baby sitter. His death has been ruled a suicide while the others were deemed homicides.
The family was found by a relative on April 18 after they had not been heard from for a day.