Double Homicide/Dog-icide/Suicide to Blame for Four Bodies Found in Phoenix Home

Phoenix police released the names of the three people found dead in a Phoenix home yesterday afternoon, and it appears to them that this is a double homicide/suicide -- with a side of dog-icide.

Police got a call about 2:30 p.m. yesterday from a neighbor of 81-year-old Richard Schmalenbach saying she saw what appeared to be a dead body in his backyard. She also said she hadn't seen any activity at the home in several days.

When police got to Schmalenbach's house, they found the dead body of Schmalenbach's 50-year-old son, Tom Schmalenbach, who lived with the couple, sitting in a chair on the back porch. Inside the home, they found Schmalenbach's dead body as well as the body of his 80-year-old wife.

The family dog also had been killed.

Police believe Schmalenbach shot his wife, Mary Schmalenbach, his son, and the dog before turning the gun on himself.

The same neighbor who called police yesterday reported hearing gunshots coming from the house on Saturday, but she didn't call police.

Phoenix Sergeant Steve Martos tells New Times that a motive for the murders is unknown.

An 80-year-old man murdering his family -- and his dog -- seems a bit strange, if you ask us. We asked Martos if there was any indication that Schmalenbach suffered from any mental disorders, Alzheimer's Disease, or dementia. He says the suspect's mental condition is unknown and that the case is still under investigation. 

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James King
Contact: James King