Police treating four fatalities as murder-suicide — (The Charlotte Observer)

Original article no longer available

The Charlotte Observer

Posted on Mon, Nov. 11, 2002

Associated Press

LEXINGTON, N.C. – A family of four found strangled and shot to death were victims of a murder-suicide, police said Monday. Donald Mark Tetter, 40; his wife, Elizabeth, 42; his daughter, Kristen, 8; and his stepson, Manuel Alejandro Ojeda Gonzalez, 12; were found in their home Saturday. The bodies had been inside the house for at least five days, police said. An autopsy showed that Donald and Kristen Tetter died from gunshot wounds, Police Lt. Tad Kepley said. Their bodies were found in the living room, along with the family dog, which also had been killed. Elizabeth Tetter and Manuel Gonzalez, died from suffocation, the autopsy showed. Their bodies were found in a bedroom in the back of the two-story house. Donald Tetter was found on the couch in the living room with a severe head wound, relatives said. A 12-gauge shotgun was in his hand. Friends and neighbors said that no one had heard from the family since Nov. 3.

Investigators consider the case a murder-suicide, police Sgt. D.E. Davis said. A short note was found at the scene, Lexington Police Lt. Keith Owen said, but he would not release what it said. Family members said Donald and Elizabeth Tetter had recently separated and that Donald Tetter was still living in the home while he looked for another place to live, Owen said. Elizabeth Tetter had two sons from a previous marriage, Manuel and Victor, who is a student at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and was not at the house when the shooting happened. Neighbor James Webb, whose mother is Donald Tetter’s cousin, said he entered the Tetter home because he and other neighbors noticed that they hadn’t seen the Tetter family in about a week. They also heard gun shots the night of Nov. 3.

“One of the neighbors stopped me and said she hadn’t seen Mark and Elizabeth around. She asked me to go to the door,” he said.Webb said he knocked on the door and the house was still. Then he reached for the door knob and the door opened, he said. The first thing he notice was a strong smell of decaying bodies. He saw that the dog had been shot, then Kristen’s body on the floor, covered with a towel. Donald Tetter was sitting on the sofa with a shotgun in his hand, Webb said. Donald Tetter’s mother, Linda Gallimore, said her son was seeing a doctor in Greensboro seeking treatment for a chemical imbalance in the brain. Gallimore said she last talked to her son the morning of Nov. 4.”He called me and asked me if I wanted his Explorer,” she said. “I told him no, because he used that to take the children to school. He told me if I wanted it, I could have it because he would use Elizabeth’s van.”Gallimore said when she asked her son about the kids, he told her they were still sleeping and he hadn’t gotten them up to get them ready for school.”But they were already dead,” she said as she choked back a sob.