Archive for Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sheriff says father in Scranton, Kan., killed children, self

The deaths of three young children and their father appear to be murder-suicide.

January 14, 2009, 2:53 p.m. Updated January 14, 2009, 5:19 p.m.


— After his wife left for work, Michael L. Shirley killed his three children at their home in this small northeast Kansas town, set fire to the living room, then shot himself, investigators said Wednesday.

Osage County Sheriff Laurie Dunn said Shirley, 52, suffered a shotgun wound in the upper torso but died as a result of the fire. Dunn said other evidence determined the death was a suicide, but would not elaborate.

The sheriff wouldn't specify how the children died, but she eliminated the fire or gunshot wounds as possibilities.

The Kansas Fire Marshal's Office ruled the fire was arson shortly after the mother, Amy Shirley, and a neighbor found the bodies Monday morning.

Dunn identified the children as 14-year-old Ethan C. Shirley, 11-year-old Ashten C. Shirley, and 9-year-old Caleb Jackson Shirley. She said there was no evidence the children had been bound or restrained.

She also said investigators still were trying to determine a motive. Dunn also said that Amy Shirley told authorities that everything seemed normal when she left for work.

"There's a mom who had her whole world turned upside down two days ago," Dunn said. "There's nothing to show she was involved."

Michael and Amy Shirley had been married for about 15 years, Dunn said, adding: "We're still working on the relationship status."

Wally Roberts, fire marshal investigator, said some type of accelerant, such as gasoline or diesel fuel, was poured on the living room floor and furniture. He said the fire went out after about 15 minutes.

Dunn said Amy Shirley left for work in Topeka about 6:30 a.m. Monday and later received a call from her children's school that they weren't there. After nobody answered the phone at home, she returned to the house with a neighbor. The fire was already out when Amy Shirley arrived, Dunn said, and she called authorities around 10:40 a.m.

Dunn said Shirley is staying with relatives and has refused all media requests for interviews.

The deaths shocked the small town of about 725 residents, about 20 miles south of Topeka. The last homicide in Scranton was in the 1970s.

Dunn said that during her 28 years with the sheriff's department she has never investigated a homicide case with that many deaths or one in which children were killed.


rdave13 9 years, 4 months ago

Deepest sympathy to the mother and family. Jeeezz.....

spankyandcranky 9 years, 4 months ago

Sad and disturbing. I'm interested to hear what authorities think the motive was. What drives someone to that point?

Bassetlover 9 years, 4 months ago

This was the exact scenario on an Oprah show a few years back, minus the fire. One of the saddest episodes I ever saw. He was angry at the wife (former wife, that is) and wanted revenge so he shot all the kids. Horrible.

Confrontation 9 years, 4 months ago

Horrible situation for the surving family members. I'm going to guess that it's another case of a man who wanted to control a woman, and when he couldn't, he took the worst type of revenge.

Judgesmails 9 years, 4 months ago

Ahhh, expert analysis from Confrontation!Always the voice of reason on the LJW loser forum.

jonas_opines 9 years, 4 months ago

Ahhh, a useless and snide remark from judgesmails. Another who finds themselves unique for posting how people here are idiots with no life.

bangaranggerg 9 years, 4 months ago

I count myself among those who feel people here are idiots with no life, and am happy to believe that is not unique. Solomon is on to something.-----------Regarding the story, there are better details on the Topeka Capital Journal's website. None of the kids died of gunshot wounds. Its strange how little info has been released, The press conference today shed no light.

4thgencowgirl 9 years, 4 months ago

Very sad story indeed. My sympathy to the families involved. I just can't imagine her coming upon this scene if nobody was with her. OMG.

geniusmannumber1 9 years, 4 months ago

It's "ad hominem," you idiot. How can anyone take your opinions seriously? Because you're an idiot, I mean.

geniusmannumber1 9 years, 4 months ago

(okay, I'm undercutting my joke here, but I wanted to point out that last post was meant ironically. sorry if I offended)

Deja Coffin 9 years, 4 months ago

My thoughts and prayers go out to the mother and the rest of the family. I cannot even imagine the pain she is going through. So sad. They kept saying on the news that the father recently won 20,000 from the kansas lotto. Was that just to remind of us that money can't give you everything you want? I feel so sorry for these children. So the father didn't even die from the gun shot wound but died from the fire? Serves him right.

persevering_gal 9 years, 4 months ago

My prayers also go out to Amy, her family, and the town of Scranton. What a shock for everyone to hear this. I'm very sorry for your loss.

Confrontation 9 years, 4 months ago

It's good to see that the pathetic loser, also known as Judgesmells, is back in action. This murderer is pathetic enough to possibly be a relative of yours.

Steve Jacob 9 years, 4 months ago

I do hope they have someone from the outside with more experience on this is involved help with knowing for sure it was a suicide.

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