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Published: 5/14/2006

Authorities: Dad killed children, then himself

BLADE STAFF

SWANTON -- Authorities are continuing their investigation into a murder-suicide yesterday morning in Fulton County that left a father and his two children dead and their mother injured.

Authorities confirmed today Clarence "Jack" Saunders, 58, of Swancreek Township, shot his children -- Lauren, 10, and Jacob, 5 -- multiple times before shooting himself once in the head.

Patricia Saunders, the children's mother, was in St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center in Toledo today after surgery. She told Fulton County sheriff's deputies that her husband stabbed her. Her condition is not known.

Also injured in the incident was Deputy Rick Brock, who was shot twice in the shoulder by Mr. Saunders. He is recovering at an area hospital after surgery yesterday.

Dr. Kenton Kamp, the county's assistant coroner, ordered autopsies.

Deputy Brock, who responded to the home after authorities learned of the stabbing, was shot twice in the left shoulder by Saunders, who fired three times at the deputy, authorities said.

No motive for the violence was determined yesterday, Fulton County Chief Deputy Roy Miller said.

Mrs. Saunders' father, Jim Staczek of Rossford said, "Everybody's in the dark."

Saunders called 911 at 7:06 a.m. and reported that his wife was cut on her lower stomach.

"OK. What got her cut?" the dispatcher asked.

"She said she needed some blankets. She's bleeding pretty bad," Saunders said.

"OK. What did she cut herself on, sir?" the dispatcher asked.

"I don't know. I'm just, I'm just frantic, and she is too. [A few unintelligible words.] She said just tell them to come," Saunders said.

"OK. She's in the house there?" the dispatcher asked.

"Yes, she is," Saunders said.

"OK," the dispatcher said.

"It's, ah, my address is 1871 County Road E," Saunders said.

"OK, Mr. Saunders?" the dispatcher said.

"Yes," Saunders said.

"OK. We got you. We'll be right there," the dispatcher said.

"How'd you know it was me?" Saunders asked.

"It came up on the ah, screen, sir," the dispatcher said.

"Oh, OK," Saunders said.

Authorities gave this account of what then happened:

Swanton Emergency Medical Service arrived at the immaculate small farm with numerous large trees, a horse barn, and riding area at 7:15 a.m. When Mrs. Saunders told the emergency personnel that she had been stabbed by her husband, they called law enforcement and took her to a medical helicopter bound for St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center.

Deputy Brock was one of the first law enforcement officers to arrive. He was told that Saunders and the two children were in the home. When he entered the residence, Mr. Saunders fled down a hallway into a bedroom and fired the shots at the deputy.

Deputy Brock, who has been on the force for 20 years, retreated, called for help, and also was flown to St. Vincent.

His call for help was answered by law enforcement officers from all directions, including sheriff's deputies from Lucas and Henry counties, Swanton and Delta police officers, Ohio Highway Patrol troopers, and Ohio State Forestry rangers.

By 9:35 a.m., a negotiator was trying to make telephone calls into the home. They weren't answered.

Twelve minutes later - at 9:47 a.m. - authorities sent a Lucas County entry team into the home.

They found Saunders and his children dead.

Authorities, who later were assisted by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, recovered a small-caliber handgun.

The children's grandfather, Mr. Staczek, apparently was first told that they were dead when he arrived at the intersection of County Roads 2 and E, a quarter mile from the Saunders home, and was stopped by an Ohio Highway Patrol trooper.

"Please God, No!" Mr. Staczek cried as a Fulton County sheriff's sergeant talked to him.

Abby Kolodziejczyk, who over the years had frequently baby-sat Lauren and Jacob as well as the neighborhood children with whom they played, said she had often talked about the country life of horses and the outdoors with Saunders.

"I just don't understand what snapped in his mind to make him do the actions he did," she said.

Several neighbors said Saunders had taught at area colleges.

Saunders had worked as a contract employee in the University of Findlay's School of Environmental and Emergency Management for the last several years, university spokesman Suzanne English said.

He intermittently provided training services for environmental responses and emergency services, she said.

"This is a tragic situation, and we extend our sympathies to those involved," she said.

Lauren, who rode the family's horses, was to have participated in a horse show yesterday, said Gill Ramirez, whose children often rode with her.

She was in the fourth grade at Lial School in Whitehouse, according to a neighbor.

Her brother had just turned 5 last month.



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