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St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Tuesday, December 3, 1991
Author: By The Associated Press
BRANSON, Mo. (AP) – Jane Duston told her sister that she planned to wait until all her family members were together and then kill them and herself so they would ”all go through the pearly gates together,” Dr. Charles Spears, the Taney County coroner, said Monday.
A coroner’s jury ruled Monday that Duston, 46, shot and killed her husband and two daughters as they slept, wounded a son and then committed suicide early Sunday.
Spears quoted the dead woman’s sister as saying also that Tom Duston, the husband, had removed guns from the home as a precaution.
But Spears said, ”We would like to think it was spontaneous, that it was not premeditated, that something just went wrong with Jane.” Jane Duston left no suicide note, police said.
William Duston, her 17-year-old son, was shot once in the chest but managed to crawl from his bedroom to a kitchen phone to call police. He was hospitalized in serious condition in Springfield and is expected to live, officials said.
Tom Duston was alive when police arrived and told officers that his wife had done the shooting, said Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Jack Merritt. Duston died at a hospital.
The six-member coroner’s jury heard evidence and deliberated about 30 minutes before concluding that Jane Duston had committed the murders and then fired two shots into her own chest.
”Anyone who knew Jane would marvel that she would even know which end of the gun to hold,” said Spears. A .38-caliber revolver was used.
Spears said Jane Duston underwent successful surgery for uterine cancer about a month ago and had been taking medication for depression.
Tom Duston, 49, an insurance agent and former city councilman, was shot four times in the master bedroom, Police Chief Steve Mefford said. After shooting him, Jane Duston apparently shot 16-year-old Mary Beth Duston, who was asleep in her room; her 21-year-old daughter, Leslie, asleep on a couch in the den; and William, who climbed out of bed after hearing gunshots and was shot in his bedroom.
Jane Duston then returned to the master bedroom and killed herself, the police chief said.
Nine shots were fired in all. Each of the children was struck once, Mefford said.
Copyright 1991 St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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