A struggling single mother and her four children were shot to death at her fiance's rural southern Idaho home by one of his closest friends, who then killed himself, authorities said.
The body of local farm manager Walter Schoolcraft, 47, was found early Wednesday in his pickup truck at home, about a mile from the house that Dean Barney shared with Denise McCoy and her children.McCoy, 33, an aspiring nurse divorced from a Persian Gulf War veteran, and her children, Jenny King, 12; Jordan King, 10; Chelsey King, 8; and Adrianna McCoy, 2, were fatally shot between 9 p.m. and midnight Tuesday.
Shell casings in Schoolcraft's truck matched those found in the farmhouse, linking the six deaths, Lincoln County Prosecutor Brit Groom said. Authorities were still trying to piece together what led up to the killings. Neither Groom nor Sheriff Stephen Southwick would speculate on a motive.
McCoy, newly accepted as a nursing student at the College of Southern Idaho in nearby Twin Falls, had been dating the 25-year-old Barney for nearly two years and had recently moved in with him. They planned to marry this summer.
Barney discovered the bodies when he returned home about midnight from his shift as a night watchman for the state Department of Transportation in Shoshone.
Deputies found Schoolcraft's body when they stopped at his place on the way to Barney's after Barney called 911 to report finding the bodies at his house. The sheriff said the deputies assumed Schoolcraft would want to know about the killings because of his friendship with Barney.
Groom said investigators questioned Barney extensively Wednesday but did not detain him and did not consider him a suspect.
Schoolcraft, a bachelor who did not date, reportedly had been a regular visitor to Barney's home and often had baby-sat McCoy's children. He worked at the farm of Jack and Charlene Gray.