Murder Suicides

Murder suicides continue to be a problem in our nation and in our state.  On any given day in the US, someone in the US uses a gun to kill a loved one and then turns it on themselves. In some cases, the shooter kills multiple members of their own family, usually their children, before killing themselves. This is called familicide. Google “murder suicide gunshot” and click on news.  The number and frequency of these incidents will probably surprise you.

According to the most recent data from the Violence Policy Center, Tennessee is 9th in the nation for women murdered by men, most commonly with a firearm. The average age of the victims was 40-years-old.  The overwhelming majority of women (96%) were killed by men they know.  In the 15 years that the VPC has produced this annual report, Tennessee has always ranked in the top ten states for women murdered by men.

Research published in the American Journal of Public Health and reported on the Domestic Violence Hotline website reveals that the presence of a gun in domestic violence situations increases the risk of homicide for women by 500 percent. More than half of women murdered with guns are killed by family members or intimate partners.


Total incidents: 12
Deaths: 22
Injuries: 2


July 11, 2017 – Crossville – 1 killed, 1 injured
A man shot his wife, a nursing home patient, and then fatally shot himself. She sustained serious injuries and was hospitalized in critical condition.

June 17, 2017 – Nashville – 2 killed
Amy Williams, 40, was outside her home talking to her sister when her former boyfriend drove by and parked his truck.  She walked to where he was to speak with him.  About 5 minutes later, he shot and killed her.  He then walked towards his truck and turned the gun on himself.

June 16, 2017 – Oak Ridge – 3 killed
Police officers conducting a welfare check found the bodies of 49-year-old Michael Deuschle, 43-year-old Tessa Deuschle and 24-year-old Chelsea Kessel. A preliminary investigation indicates Kessel and Tessa Deuschle were shot first, and then Michael Deuschle shot himself.

April 22, 2017 – Jonesborough – 2 killed
Police officers were dispatched to a residence to investigate a report of gun shots.  They found 61-year-old William Knight and 57-year-old Janice Knight both dead.  Police indicated the shooting was a homicide-suicide.

April 11, 2017 – Cookeville – 2 killed, 1 injured
30-year-old Angelique Deplae shot her ex-boyfriend Tyler Stults, 20, and a woman he was speaking with before turning the gun on herself. Deplae and Stults both died. The other woman was hospitalized.

March 23, 2017 – Greeneville – 2 killed
Jennifer Sorrells , 39, called police to report that she had been shot and was hiding from the man who shot her.  When police arrived, they found 40-year-old James Cowgill dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.  Sorrells was found in locked bathroom with a fatal gunshot wound to the head.  A .22-caliber rifle was found under Cowgill and a 12-gauge shotgun was found on the bed. Cowgill had a documented history of domestic violence and was scheduled to appear in court in April.

March 9, 2017 – Bemis – 2 killed
A woman who was scheduled to testify against a robbery suspect was fatally shot by the suspect who then turned the gun on himself.

February 19, 2017 – Memphis – 2 killed
A couple who had been experiencing marital problems and was discussing divorce were found dead in their home from gunshot injuries. 65-year-old Margaret Swearengen, an artist, had sustained multiple gunshots and her husband Tom Swearengen had been killed by a single gunshot.

February 18, 2017 – Memphis – 2 killed
64-year-old James Lea fatally shot his wife, Lisa Lea, 55, and then used the gun to kill himself.

February 15, 2017 – Alcoa – 2 killed 
In Alcoa, 46-year-old Dawn Hodge shot and killed her husband, 55-year-old Ladonald Hodge and then used the gun to kill herself.

January 31, 2017 – East Ridge – 2 killed
Joseph “Charley” Yates, 54, shot his longtime girlfriend Ellen McKenzie, 48, in the head, then put the shotgun barrel in his mouth and pulled the trigger, according to a preliminary report from the Hamilton County Medical Examiner’s Office.

January 24, 2017 – Donelson – 2 killed
A 43-year-old man shot and killed his 34-year-old live-in girlfriend and then fatally shot himself.


Guns in the Home and Risk of a Violent Death in the Home: Findings from a National Study
American Journal of Epidemiology

The Accessibility of Firearms and Risk for Suicide and Homicide Victimization Among Household Members: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis
Annals of Internal Medicine

Gun Violence: Facts and Statistics
Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania

Risks and Benefits of a Gun in the Home
American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine

Guns and Suicide: The Hidden Toll
Harvard University School of Public Health