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Tampa Bay Times
By MICHAEL A. MOHAMMED
Published December 19, 2006
LITHIA – On Sunday evening at FishHawk Ranch, Shawn McAdams mowed his lawn and carefully swept up.
Then, about midnight, McAdams shot his wife, Loren, and killed himself, sheriff’s deputies say. It happened as her 8-year-old son slept, and despite the efforts of her 13-year-old son, who ran next door for help.
A family friend said McAdams had been battling depression amid a painful custody battle over a son from his first marriage. Also, court records show, he and Loren had initiated divorce proceedings.
“He went off his meds near the end of October but didn’t tell Loren,” said Dawn Martin, who was Loren McAdams’ close friend and neighbor.
A few weeks later, Loren noticed a change in her husband’s mood. He admitted he had stopped taking his antidepressant medicine but said he didn’t need it, or a therapist.
Loren McAdams worried he was unstable and in need of help, Martin said.
Shawn McAdams had also been drinking heavily in recent weeks, his wife told Martin.
He wasn’t acting like the man they thought they knew, the one who played poker with them and drove his stepson to Boy Scout outings.
Another neighbor also noticed something odd about Shawn McAdams’ demeanor Sunday.
About 8 p.m., McAdams called neighbor Fred Cortes to tell him his car’s headlight was out. When Cortes thanked him, McAdams just turned and walked away.
“It definitely seemed like something was wrong,” Cortes said.
He was used to seeing McAdams smoking cigarettes, but later Sunday, he smelled heavy cigar smoke coming from his neighbor’s open garage.
Loren McAdams had spent the evening Christmas shopping, and then met a friend for dinner and coffee. At 11:56 p.m. she called her friend Martin to tell her something was wrong.
She told Martin that her 13-year-old son, Max, had called from home to say he was scared. When Loren McAdams got home, her husband’s car was parked in the garage, not in the driveway as usual.
She entered the house. He husband had a gun. He had told his wife he owned one but would never say where he hid it, Martin said.
McAdams grabbed his wife and told Max he would hurt him if he picked up a phone, Martin learned from the neighbors who called 911. Loren had told her son to run to the neighbors’ house and call the police.
When police arrived they found Loren and Shawn McAdams dead. Loren’s younger son was in his bedroom and physically unharmed.
Shawn McAdams, 36, worked for the Department of Children and Families, neighbors say, and Loren McAdams, 41, worked as a manager at a payroll company.
Shawn McAdams’ 6-year-old biological son lived with them for over a year and had become very close to Loren’s younger son, Hayden. But in September, a judge ruled the boy had to go back to his mother in Ohio.
Shawn McAdams was devastated, said Cheryl Lukas, who represented him in the custody battle.
“He adored his son Jordan, as he did both of Loren’s children,” she said.
By all accounts, the shooting stunned people.
“It was a bad set of circumstances where an ex-husband just flipped,” said Patricia Rini, Loren McAdams’ mother.
As Rini loaded the car to bring her grandsons home to Fort Myers with her, neighbors saw the boys sitting in front of their house in a daze.
Martin called Rini on Monday night. Rini told her Hayden was asking when his mother would come home.
Michael A. Mohammed can be reached at email@example.com or 813 226-3404.
[Last modified December 19, 2006, 05:55:52]