Story courtesy of the Columbia Daily Herald written by Ric Bohy:
When a 13-year-old boy knocked on his neighbor’s door late at night, he had horrifying news for the man who answered.
The boy said his father had just shot his mother. He then ran back home, saying he had to get his two younger brothers. The neighbor immediately called 911. When the boys returned to their neighbor’s house a few minutes later, the oldest told the neighbor his father had also shot himself.
After Maury County Sheriff’s deputies arrived and carefully entered the trash-strewn double-wide trailer at 3540 Fly Road in Santa Fe, they found the bloodied bodies of Matthew O. Johnson, 31, and his wife Sharon R. Johnson, also 31, on the floor inside.
The incident report that contained those facts presented the murder-suicide — which took place about 11 p.m. Thursday — using the dispassionate language used in such documents. But the facts left Johnson’s father and the couple’s neighbors stunned, grieving and incapable of holding back tears.
The next morning, Ron Johnson was picking up garbage outside his son Matt’s home. He spoke haltingly about the tragedy.
“They’ve been having marriage troubles, that’s really all I know. It’s been a month or two now. I figured they’d work things out, you know. They didn’t,” the elder Johnson said, fighting back tears. “I talked to him yesterday about 4:30 (p.m.), and he was doing all right. He was fine.”
Maury County Sheriff’s Detective Terry Dial said the Johnsons’ sons, ages 13, 5 and 2, were in the home when their mother was shot. He added that law enforcement had received no previous reports of trouble at the residence, about 15 miles northwest of Columbia.
The mother’s body was found in the kitchen; she had been shot multiple times. Her husband’s body was found in the living room, dead of a single gunshot to the head, authorities said.
The weapon was a 9mm handgun, a sheriff’s official said.
The incident has been ruled a murder-suicide, Dial said, and the children have been placed in the custody of their grandfather.
He said investigators remained uncertain of a motive for the violence.
Another neighbor, Vanessa Smotherman, said she watched the 13-year-old boy as he was interviewed by investigators.
“He was having to take all this in,” Smotherman said of the child as she freely wept. “It broke my heart. Tore me to pieces.”
Smotherman said she was unaware of any problems between the couple, and had often seen them walking together with their children.