York County sees more murder-suicides in 2015

Written by Gordon Rago/York Daily Record | Jan 4, 2016 12:53 PM

Police reported that a husband shot and killed his wife, and then himself, at a home on South Russell Street in Springettsbury on July 29.(Photo: File, York Daily Record)

(Undated) -- There were 16 homicide victims in York County in 2015, more than half of which were the result of murder-suicides and domestic in nature, according to the York County Coroner's Office.

That's a slight decrease from 2014 which saw 17 homicides, Coroner Pam Gay said, and is relatively consistent with the number of murders the county has seen over the last five years.

In 2013, for example, there were 19 homicides, and 21 in 2012, 20 in 2011 and 11 in 2010.

What stood out this year was an uptick in murder-suicides, although York County has seen them in the past, Gay said. Numbers provided by Gay last year show that murder-suicides occurred in York County over the last 20 years, but usually one or two a year.

As far as homicides in 2015, Gay also noted how more of them took place outside the city of York.

"We tend to think homicides are city, city, city," Gay said on Saturday. "As you can see, about half of the ones from last year were in suburban and rural areas."

Gay is expecting to release her office's annual coroner's report on Tuesday. The report will show statistics related to homicides, suicides and drug-related deaths in York County.

Her report will list 18 county homicides in 2015. Her office counted the deaths of Matthew Hanes, who died Aug. 7 from injuries he sustained while on active duty while overseas, and the police-involved shooting of Jess Leipold outside the Adams County Prison. Leipold was taken to York Hospital where he died, Gay said.

Murder-suicides a county-wide problem

Gay called murder-suicides a county-wide problem.

In the most recent murder-suicide, Donna Wilk, 61, was shot and killed July 29 by her husband Brian Wilk, 50, at their home in Springettsbury Township. There were three  similar incidents this year, stretching from Dillsburg to Warrington Township.

Two were double murder-suicides, one of which occurred at a hotel in Springettsbury Township. The other was reported on May 30 in Warrington Township when Laurie Kuykendall was shot and killed by her estranged husband Martin Kepner. Barbara Schrum, who went to the home with Laurie to pick up her belongings, was also killed by Kepner, authorities have said.

"We have to continue to look for the signs," Gay said of murder-suicides, adding they can often involve mental illness and stresses related to finance and marriages. "We need to continue to educate and encourage women who are in abusive relationships that there is help out there and safe places to go. We need to teach our young people what warning signs to look for that may indicate an abusive relationship."

From Theresa Rodriguez's experience, which she writes about in her book "Warning Signs of Abuse," there are some things that are characteristic of an abusive relationship.

- Controlling what you wear

- Controlling your money

- The rapidity of the relationship: Sometimes an abuser may move the relationship so fast so you don't know what you're getting into

- If there is history of abuse or even criminal history

- If they do anything coercive or intimidating

For more information about domestic violence or sexual assault, visit Their 24-hour hotline is 717-854-3131.

This article comes to us through a partnership between York Daily Record and WITF.


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