Archive for Thursday, August 28, 2003

Apparent suicide follows slaying

Officials say wife killed herself day after husband died

August 28, 2003

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— A psychology teacher at Hutchinson Community College shot herself to death Wednesday as officers closed in to question her about the shooting death of her husband, authorities said.

Lillian Jeanne Stafford, 61, died at a hospital of a gunshot wound to the chest, Reno County Undersheriff Dennis Stofer told The Hutchinson News. Her husband, a physician, was shot and killed Tuesday night at a medical office building across from the Hutchinson Clinic.

Dr. Robert Stafford, 60, was dead on arrival at the nearby Hutch-inson Hospital.

The 1:53 p.m. shooting Wednesday came during a search by officers from Reno, Harvey and McPherson counties after investigators tied Lillian Stafford to a 16-mile radius around a cell phone tower near Inman.

A Reno County sheriff's captain found the woman's sport utility vehicle parked in a cul-de-sac northwest of Hutchinson at 1:18 p.m., Stofer said.

"Initially, we couldn't tell if she was in the vehicle," Stofer said. "We called for additional officers. While waiting and surveying the area, the officers heard a gunshot."

The shot came from behind a sand dune 50 to 75 feet off the road, Stofer said. Officers found Lillian Stafford, suffering from a single gunshot wound in the left side of the chest, probably from a .38-caliber handgun similar to one used Tuesday night, said Hutchinson Police Chief Dick Heitschmidt.

Emergency crews initially found a pulse and respiration as they began CPR, but Lillian Stafford later died at Hutchinson Hospital, Stofer said.

On Tuesday, police said they received a 911 call at 9:17 p.m. about a shooting. A special operations unit from the Hutchinson Police Department and Reno County Sheriff's Department found the doctor during a sweep of the Doctors Park Building Suites.

Assistant Police Chief Dave Higdon said the doctor was found in an office area with a single gunshot wound to the chest. Higdon said he was not breathing and had no pulse when taken to the hospital.

Police had not established a motive for the doctor's shooting.

Hutchinson Police Detective Lt. John Tracy, left, and Detective
Clay Rothe search for evidence in the Doctors Park Building Suites
in Hutchinson. The window was broken out when the body of Dr.
Robert Stafford was removed by the Hutchinson Police Special
Operations Unit Tuesday night. Stafford, 60, was dead on arrival at
the nearby Hutchinson Hospital, Tracy said.

Hutchinson Police Detective Lt. John Tracy, left, and Detective Clay Rothe search for evidence in the Doctors Park Building Suites in Hutchinson. The window was broken out when the body of Dr. Robert Stafford was removed by the Hutchinson Police Special Operations Unit Tuesday night. Stafford, 60, was dead on arrival at the nearby Hutchinson Hospital, Tracy said.

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