Thursday, October 8, 2009

Winnsboro, LA: Report rules deaths as murder-suicide

By Matthew Hamilton

State police finished an investigation into the deaths of two Winnsboro residents and concluded the deaths were a murder-suicide as had been suspected.

In July, Franklin Parish sheriff's deputies responded to a domestic disturbance at 118 Muckelrath Road. There, deputies found 33-year-old Laurie Poland and 33-year-old Jason Muckelrath with gunshot wounds.

A Franklin Parish coroner pronounced Poland dead at the scene. Muckelrath was taken to Franklin Parish Medical Center, where he died a short time later, according to state police.

At the time, Trooper Mark Dennis said a preliminary investigation suggested the deaths were a murder-suicide. On Wednesday, Dennis confirmed the final investigation revealed Muckelrath shot Poland and then shot himself. Troopers have yet to turn the case over to the 5th Judicial District Attorney's office.

Death notices from Young's Community Funeral Home in Winnsboro indicated Muckelrath worked as a truck driver for the pipeline industry and Poland worked as a lawyer with the Louisiana Department of Social Services.

Franklin Parish Chief Deputy Kevin Cobb said he did not know the relationship between Muckelrath and Poland, but he said Muckelrath's father works at the Franklin Parish Detention Center, which prompted deputies to call in state police.

Sarah Johnson with the Wellspring Alliance for Families said her organization listed the shootings as a domestic violence incident.

"Our understanding was that they had been in a relationship and had been estranged," Johnson said.

She encouraged anyone in northeastern Louisiana living in fear of domestic violence to contact Wellspring at 323-1505.

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