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Wednesday, July 23, 2014
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Published: Friday, 2/7/2014 - Updated: 5 months ago

Details start to emerge about suspect in Defiance County triple murder-suicide

BLADE STAFF
This house on Bowman Road, south of Defiance, Ohio, in Highland Township, is where Robert Garza, Sr., 68, is believed to have shot his wife, Christine Garza, 61, daughter, Zolia Garza, 42, and granddaughter, Rebecca Garza, 15, before taking his own life. This house on Bowman Road, south of Defiance, Ohio, in Highland Township, is where Robert Garza, Sr., 68, is believed to have shot his wife, Christine Garza, 61, daughter, Zolia Garza, 42, and granddaughter, Rebecca Garza, 15, before taking his own life.
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AYERSVILLE, Ohio – The man who law enforcement officials believe killed his family and then himself was a Vietnam War veteran.

Robert Garza, Sr., 68, is believed to have shot his wife, Christine Garza, 61, daughter, Zolia Garza, 42, and granddaughter, Rebecca Garza, 15, before taking his own life.

The four were found in pairs in two upstairs rooms at the family's “long time” home where they all lived.

Defiance County Sheriff David Westrick would not say who was found in either of the rooms or what types of rooms they were in.

The family was found Thursday night in their home in the 25200 block of Bowman Road, south of Defiance in Highland Township, by a family member who went to check on them after having trouble making contact.

The family was last seen at about 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Deputies were called to the house at 7:45 p.m. Thursday.

Authorities said they recovered a handgun from the home; they believe the weapon was used in the incident.

Sheriff Westrick said Defiance County Coroner Dr. Gary Okuley ordered the four bodies be autopsied by the Lucas County Coroner's Office.

It was not clear when the autopsies would be performed; Dr. Okuley could not be immediately reached for comment.

Mr. Garza, during his time in Vietnam, was exposed to Agent Orange, the sheriff said.

He emphasized that he did not want to suggest that his military service and exposure is what caused him to kill his family and himself.

Mr. Garza did have known health problems; it was not clear if they were related to his military background, the sheriff said.

Assistant Highland Township Fire Chief Brian Berry said the township EMS responded to the Bowman Road residence and was referring questions about the incident to the sheriff's office.

“Our deepest thoughts go out to the family and friends affected,” the chief said in a statement.

Ayersville is about 55 miles southwest of Toledo.



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