Clay County authorities have released the names of three people found slain Monday in an apparent double murder and suicide.
They identified them as Jan L. Hepworth, 70; his wife, Cheryl D. Hepworth, 69; and Damian T. Russell, a 14-year-old relative of the couple, who were seeking to become his guardians.
Cheryl Hepworth and Damian died from gunshot wounds to the head, and Jan Hepworth died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Deputies were called to the residence in the 19000 block of Neth Road in rural Clay County about 9 a.m. after a family friend reported seeing a body and blood through a back-door window. The friend went to the residence to check on the family after not being able to reach anyone there.
The wife and the boy were found in separate bedrooms. Jan Hepworth was found sprawled on the floor in the kitchen near the back door. The home sits amid farmland north of Missouri 92, just east of Smithville Lake.
Investigators said they found no evidence of what may have led to the shootings. However they said there was sufficient evidence to rule the cause of death as a murder-suicide.
On Monday, investigators found the weapon they think was used in the shootings near Jan Hepworth’s body. They found no weapons on the other bodies.
They recovered prescription drugs and found more than 10 firearms, including an assortment of revolvers, semiautomatic weapons and long-barreled firearms.
Robert Wilcox Jr., who lives nearby, said area residents were shocked to learn about the shootings. They knew of no problems inside or what may have led to the slayings.
Wilcox said Jan Hepworth had worked for an airline but had retired after injuring his back. Hepworth had a gun shop in his basement and a rifle range in his backyard where he used to target practice.
Hepworth had experienced a number of health problems in recent years, Wilcox.
Cheryl Hepworth as a pleasant woman who “would do anything for you and was as nice as she could be,” Wilcox said.
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