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Published: Sunday, 3/16/2008

Woman, man die in apparent murder-suicide

BY JANE SCHMUCKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

BERLIN HEIGHTS, Ohio - A 42-year-old man shot himself to death Friday night after apparently killing his wife and then causing a four-hour standoff with law enforcement negotiators in eastern Erie County's Berlin Township.

Melanie R. Jensen, 34, was found dead in the kitchen with an apparent gunshot wound to the head and her husband, Thomas W. Jensen, killed himself later in a detached garage workshop in what authorities from the Erie County Sheriff's Office are investigating as a murder-suicide.

Ms. Jensen was found dead in the home at 5903 State Rt. 113 shortly before 7 p.m. by deputies who forced entrance. They were called to the home on a report of domestic violence by one of her teenage daughters, Sheriff's Capt. Paul A. Sigsworth said.

Deputies looked for her husband and eventually found him in a detached garage at the rear of the home, where he had barricaded himself in a workshop area.

Jensen, a maintenance mechanic at CertainTeed Corp., put a gun to his head and threatened suicide.

"Our negotiators did just a tremendous job trying to get him to put that gun down," Captain Sigsworth said. "He just repeatedly said he was not going to put the gun down."

Over four hours, three negotiators took turns talking to Jensen through an open door and deputies stood nearby with weapons drawn, but he shot himself in the head about 11:15 p.m., the captain said.

It is believed that the same .357 Magnum that Jensen used to take his own life was the weapon he used to kill his wife, a sheriff's office news release said.

The couple had been living separately recently, with Ms. Jensen staying with a sister in the county's Castalia area, the captain said.

Friday evening, the couple went out to eat. When they returned, an argument ensued and escalated into a physical confrontation.

Two of the couple's three daughters - a 14-year-old and a 17-year-old - were home and a younger daughter was at a friend's home, the captain said.

The 14-year-old tried to intervene in the confrontation and her leg was injured in the process. The 17-year-old called 911.

The initial report given to authorities was that a man was choking a woman and pointing a gun at her, a sheriff's office release said.

"Unfortunately this is another example of a domestic violence-related homicide," Captain Sigsworth said.

He said he did not believe authorities had been called to the home in the past. Nor were the couple familiar to the law.

Autopsies on the bodies are to be conducted by the Lucas County Coroner's office today.

Contact Jane Schmucker at: jschmucker@theblade.com or 419-724-6050.



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