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Lancaster New Era (PA) –

October 15, 1997


From the very start, trouble haunted Kathy and Randy Sheaffer’s marriage.   The couple were married on March 28, on Good Friday. Two days later, on Easter Sunday, police with shotguns responded to a domestic quarrel at the couple’s Mount Joy home.

Within several weeks, they had separated, but they could not seem to extricate themselves from their stormy relationship.

During their brief marriage, the couple summoned the county’s Crisis Intervention agency several times as their battles escalated beyond their control. Police were repeatedly called to their home.

Mrs. Sheaffer, 37, also filed two protection from abuse orders against her husband, seeking to keep him away from her and from her children from a previous marriage.

“Randy came to my house and threatened … to make my life a living hell,” she wrote in the second PFA. “He has been following and stalking me.”

Police served that PFA order on Sheaffer early Tuesday afternoon, as Sheaffer, 36, was pumping gas in Mount Joy.

Less than 12 hours later, Mrs. Sheaffer was dead. Her husband allegedly shot her in the chest at midnight Tuesday in an alley behind the couple’s home.

Several hours later, Sheaffer shot himself in the chest while sitting in his car in Derry Township in Dauphin County.

He was in critical condition today at Hershey Medical Center, where he was charged with criminal homicide.

“It’s been a nightmare the last two weeks,” Wanda Sheaffer, Sheaffer’s stepmother from Mount Joy, said today. “It’s just been one big nightmare.”

Family members and an acquaintance said today that the couple had numerous problems during their seven-month marriage.

“It was one of those really bad relationships,” Wanda Sheaffer said.

Both Sheaffer and his wife had been previously married. When they wed, Mrs. Sheaffer moved into her husband’s Mount Joy home, bringing her three sons, ages 4, 7 and 12.

Sheaffer also had a 7-year-old daughter from a previous marriage, who initially lived with them. The daughter now lives with Sheaffer’s parents.

Sheaffer works as a counter salesman and truck driver with R.E. Michel Co., a heating and air conditioning wholesaler in Harrisburg. Chris Harmes, his supervisor, said that Sheaffer, who has worked for the company for nine years, “was a very good employee. He was very dependable.”

His wife was a part-time nurse’s aide at Willow Valley Lakes Healthcare.

Soon after they were married, the couple began battling.

Sheaffer quickly moved out of their home on Grandview Circle, living with his stepmother and father, Clarence, for a time, and then living elsewhere. But he still saw his wife and the troubles between them continued.

According to the first PFA filed April 17, Sheaffer allegedly abused his wife’s younger sons. The two boys ended up in foster homes, under the care of the county’s Children and Youth Agency.

According to the second PFA filed Tuesday, Sheaffer, who is 6 feet tall and weighs about 230 pounds, also hounded his wife, even showing up at her job at Willow Valley last weekend.

Family members and an acquaintance said the troubles weighed heavily on Sheaffer, who was hospitalized several times for psychiatric problems.   He also tried to take his own life as recently as two weeks ago, by taking 75 to 80 antidepressant pills, according to the most recent PFA that Mrs. Sheaffer filed against him.

A family member said that was not the first time that Sheaffer had harmed himself.

“He tried to kill himself a couple of times,” said Thomas Carl Caldwell of Peach Bottom, Mrs. Sheaffer’s father.

“He was a very depressed individual in relation to things going on with his personal life,” said the acquaintance, who asked not to be named. “There were family problems. … Some of it was from before the marriage. It just escalated after that.”

Things started building on Thursday, Oct. 2, when Sheaffer followed his wife to the Crisis Intervention office on Frances Avenue.

When Manheim Township police tried to take him to a hospital, he resisted them and dragged a township police officer with his car. Police later arrested him in Lebanon County and charged him with reckless endangerment, resisting arrest and criminal mischief.

Sheaffer ended up in the psychiatric ward of Hershey Medical Center from Oct. 3 to 6, when he was transferred to Philhaven, a mental health hospital in Mount Gretna, until Oct. 10, Wanda Sheaffer said.

Four days later, he was served with the second PFA and then allegedly shot his wife.  The acquaintance said that the shooting was a tragic ending to two troubled lives.

“I hope Randy pulls through and gets the help he needs,” he said.

Record Number: 1997288047
All content (c) 1997 Lancaster Newspapers Inc. and may not be republished without permission.