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Published: Tuesday, 7/4/2006

Man who killed kids had drug in system

BY JANE SCHMUCKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

WAUSEON - When Clarence "Jack" Saunders killed his two young children and then himself after severely injuring his wife and a sheriff's deputy the Saturday before Mother's Day at his home south of Swanton, he had in his system a medication called sertraline, better known by the brand name Zoloft, that is typically prescribed for depression or anxiety.

The Fulton County coroner's report, filed late Friday in Fulton County Common Pleas Court, says blood tests on Saunders' body found sertraline at a level of 0.58 milligrams per liter. That amount is within the therapeutic range for the drug.

Side effects of the drug include mania - a mental disorder characterized by excessive excitement or psychosis such as delusions of grandeur or overactivity - that affects about half of 1 percent of patients, according to information about the drug.

Dr. Kenton Kamp, deputy Fulton County coroner who handled the case, said yesterday that he had not seen the toxicology report from Lucas County coroner's toxicology laboratory that found the sertraline.

He said any anti-depressant has the potential to push a patient into a manic state. But the violence at Saunders' immaculate mini-farm at 1871 County Road E in Swancreek Township early on the morning of May 13 probably couldn't be directly linked to the drug, he said.

"I would doubt that that would have played a significant role," he said, although he added that he is not a psychiatrist.

Saunders was upset that his wife was filing for divorce, according to statements she made to sheriff's deputies days before his rampage. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head; the shot entered though his right temple and was fired from contact range, according to the coroner's report.

His 5-year-old son Jacob died of multiple gunshot wounds inflicted by Saunders about 7:30 a.m. that Saturday, according to a coroner's report filed earlier last month. Shots entered Jacob's left chest over his heart, between the ribs and hipbone on his right side, and his left cheek, according to the report. The wound to his chest, which the report said caused massive damage to his heart, came from hard contact firing with a small amount of soot surrounding the wound.

Jacob was wearing plaid pajamas with a T-shirt with a picture of figure on a horse and a disposable pull-up diaper when his body was examined at the Lucas County coroner's office, which typically performs autopsies for Fulton County.

The coroner's report for Saunders' 10-year-old daughter, Lauren, was not on file at the courthouse yesterday.

Saunders' wife, Patricia, whom he stabbed before shooting the children, had recovered enough from her wounds to attend the children's funeral a week after they died.

Fulton County Sheriff's Deputy Rick Brock, who was shot twice in the left shoulder by Saunders when he entered the Saunders' home after Mrs. Saunders was stabbed, is recuperating at home and is not yet scheduled to return to work.

Contact Jane Schmucker at:

jschmucker@theblade.com

or 419-337-7780.



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