PHOENIX (AP) — Police said Wednesday they believe a woman, her teenage daughter and the woman’s brother were the three people shot to death by the woman’s estranged husband at a north Phoenix house.
Michael Sanders, 53, killed himself at the end of Tuesday’s rampage after apparently dragging his wife’s body into the home’s backyard and setting it on fire, Phoenix police Sgt. Trent Crump said.
A medical examiner will need to formally identify the bodies. But Crump said investigators are confident the victims are Sanders’ wife, Carol, 51; their daughter Audrey, 14; and Carol’s brother Tom Fitzpatrick, 49.
The couple apparently was divorcing, Crump said.
Carol Sanders had moved from the home and returned to retrieve belongings Tuesday after obtaining a protective order. Michael Sanders was supposed to leave but returned and shot all three with a semi-automatic handgun before killing himself.
The carnage played out at about 4 p.m. and some neighbors witnessed part of the incident, which Crump said traumatized the quiet neighborhood. He said Michael Sanders parked his truck a couple of blocks from his home, left his identification and keys inside, then walked back home.
He first shot and killed Fitzpatrick, who was sitting in a pickup truck that was backed into the home’s driveway, apparently to fill with belongings, Crump said. Michael Sanders then confronted his daughter and wife in the garage, closing the open garage door. Neighbors then heard gunshots.
Arriving police weren’t sure if Michael Sanders had fled, so a SWAT team sent a robot inside and entered when they saw no sign he was there. Police found Audrey Sanders dead in the garage and Carol Sanders’ body ablaze in the backyard. They then located Michael Sanders’ body on a nearby neighborhood bridle path, dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Police have not found a note or other message from Michael Sanders that might explain his actions.
“It is absolutely a chilling scene,” Crump said. “The anger it would take or the hurt it would take to kill your own daughter is unimaginable.”