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OFFICIAL SUSPECTED IN SLAYINGS, SUICIDE

A county commissioner believed to be struggling with depression apparently shot and killed his wife, two children and two grandchildren, then committed suicide, authorities said Saturday.

Neil Schatz, 55, and his relatives, including an infant grandson, died from the blasts of a 12-gauge shotgun after a family gathering at his rural farmhouse Friday. His mother and another family member found the bodies Saturday morning."He was a highly respected man; I guess something just snapped," said Franklin County Sheriff Gary Toelke. "Right now, we're treating it as a murder-suicide."

Schatz was found shot in the head in the basement of the home outside Sullivan, a town of 5,500 about 60 miles southwest of St. Louis. The other five bodies were found in bedrooms, Toelke said.

"Everybody is shocked," said Mark Vincent, county counselor. "Shock, dismay, unbelief . . . what more can you say?"

Schatz's mother, who lives next door, went to the home about 7:30 a.m. Saturday, but left when she couldn't rouse anyone, Toelke said. She returned an hour later with another family member and found the bodies.

Relatives told Toelke that Schatz had seemed depressed recently.