Three die in murder-suicide during Tenn. standoff


Associated Press

MOORESBURG, Tenn. — Authorities were investigating a possible murder-suicide on Tuesday after three people were found dead in a barn in rural northeastern Tennessee following a standoff with police.

The bodies were found by officers around dawn after a 10-hour standoff that started Monday night. The deaths initially appeared to be a murder-suicide, said Kristin Helm, spokeswoman for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Hawkins County Sheriff's Detective Randy Collier said two men and a woman were found dead with gunshot wounds inside the barn, but would not confirm any relationships among the victims.

The deputies responding to a domestic call arrived around 8 p.m., he said.

"Upon arrival deputies heard voices inside and heard several gunshots," Collier said.

Around midnight, deputies entered the lower level of the two-story barn and found the bodies of a man and a woman, Collier said. The deputies retreated after they heard movement in the upper level of the barn, a loft that had been converted into a living space with a bed and a computer.

Collier said following the discovery of the bodies, an unidentified man appeared in a window in the loft and fired a weapon. It was not clear whether he was shooting at someone or if he shot himself, Collier said.

Throughout the evening, Collier said they were unable to contact or establish communication with anyone inside the barn. Just before dawn on Wednesday, deputies went back inside and discovered a third body of a man in the loft.

The names of the victims were being held pending notification of family.

The barn is in an isolated area near Tennessee Valley Authority property north of the community of Mooresburg, about 50 miles northeast of Knoxville.

Helm said the state agency was asked by District Attorney General Berkeley Bell Jr. to open an investigation into the deaths.

According to property records, Dennis and Holly Christian own the barn and a neighbor, Laura Fugate, 76, said the couple had lived there for years until recently. The couple were going through a divorce and Holly and her adult son had moved out, but lived close by, Fugate said.

Fugate said no one has told her the identities of the victims found inside the home, but she said she saw Holly Christian talking with police outside the home on Tuesday.

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