Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Steamboat Springs, CO: Sheriff’s Office investigating apparent murder-suicide south of Steamboat

— Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins confirmed Wednesday afternoon the identities of the deceased in an apparent murder-suicide as longtime Routt County residents Larry and Chris Appel.

Routt County Sheriff’s Office officials think Larry Appel shot his wife of 42 years before taking his own life at their rural Routt County home southwest of Steamboat Springs.

The bodies were found by family members Wednesday morning after Chris Appel did not show up to work.

“They were the greatest people in the world, and financial times just ate them up,” said Keith Appel, their 39-year-old son. “He just got put in a dark corner and didn’t see a way out.”

Keith Appel said he knew his parents had been dealing with some financial hardships but said there still were a lot of unanswered questions. Keith Appel said he thought his father “was just confused.”

Wiggins said that the investigation was ongoing and that it was not clear when the shootings occurred or what led Larry Appel to shoot his wife.

“Obviously, there was some sort of sadness in the family, but we’re not sure what at this point,” Wiggins said.

He said autopsies were going to be performed to determine whether drugs or alcohol might have been involved. The Sheriff’s Office was helped at the scene by an investigator and attorney from the Routt County District Attorney’s Office.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Rusty Prindle said it appeared there was no one else involved in the incident, so criminal charges were not likely.

Chris Appel was a nurse at Yampa Valley Medical Associates. She recently helped her grandson publish a book about Keith’s battle with alcoholism, a story that was featured in a March article in the Steamboat Today.

“My mom was a huge icon in this town,” Keith Appel said.

Keith said his father was retired and had worked in heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

There are many Appel relatives in the Routt County area. Larry and Chris Appel had four grandchildren. Keith Appel and his brother Mike Appel, 41, each have two children.

Keith Appel said his parents were Routt County natives and had lived at the ranch since 1993 after the 1,800-acre ranch was split among Larry Appel’s siblings.

The family attended the Steamboat Christian Center church, and Keith Appel asked for prayers from the community during a time that he described as very hard for the family.

1 comment:

mel beggs said...

I am a domestic violence expert. The problem today is that there is no differentiation of terms to understand if an incident is true domestic violence or what society uses as an umbrella term "intimate partner violence." I am a victim witness advocate at a DA's office, I have run domestic violence groups, and have studied domestic violence for over 20 years. There is a difference between a random shooting and assault in a relationship versus actual intimate partner violence. Intimate partner violence/domestic violence is about a pattern of coercion and control generally over a matter of months or years. There is a difference between someone who assaults their intimate partner or kills them versus the person who sets the relationship up over a matter of time for an imbalance of power allowing for coercive control.
In regards to this family you are writing about; I knew them personally, I never heard about any sort of ongoing violence nor did I ever see anything to suggest coercive control. I don't know if this is a true domestic violence case and while alcoholism (which runs in this family) has many of the same attributes of emotional abuse as domestic violence, I never witnessed anything to indicate that this relationship even met this standard. I was closer with one of the boys of this couple and know that even drunk or high on different drugs he was one of the sweetest people I knew and didn't meet any standard for domestic violence. The bottom line is that while anything is possible, this death might have simply been a murder/suicide that might not fall under the guise of intimate partner violence/domestic violence.
You might not understand why it's important to distinguish between the two; however, psychologically it's very important as it's two different psyche's and indicates different needed methods to know how to deal with them (or if there is hope for a change in the perpetrators behavior) and it matters legally in terms of what sort of paper trail is needed and what sort of sentences are best.