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Food dispute led to murder-suicide

LOGAN, Ohio – A disputeover whether a terminally ill woman should have been given tea and toast or an orange apparently upset her husband so much that he shot and killed two of the woman’ssisters and his own son beforekilling himself, a sheriff said Tuesday.

The sick woman, Darlene Gilkey, witnessed the shootingsfrom a hospital bed in her living room but wasn’t injured, Hocking County Sheriff Lanny North said. The59-year-old is dying of cancer, he said.

The woman’s son, RalphSowers III, told a 911 dispatcher he survived because his stepfather, Paul Gilkey, said he was sparing him because he had kids.

After the shootings Monday, 63-year-old Paul Gilkey stepped out onto his front porch, sat down in a chair and shot himselfto death, the sheriff said.

Killed inside the home were Darlene Gilkey’s sisters, Barbara Mohler, 70, of New Straitsville, and Dorothy Cherry, 63, of New Plymouth. Also killed was Paul Gilkey’s son, Leroy Gilkey, 38, of Columbus.

North said events leading to the shootings began earlier in the day when some of the victims had apparently served Darlene Gilkey tea and toast after Paul Gilkey had already peeled an orange for her.

That led to an argument that escalated over time andculminated in the shootings, the sheriff said.

“It sounds like it was over her well-being, her care,” the sheriff said.

As the argument heated up, Paul Gilkey left the living room where his wife’s bed was, went to a bedroom where he retrieved a gun, returned to the living room and started shooting.

The sheriff said Gilkey shot Mohler first, then ordered Sowers to leave. Gilkey then shot his son and again ordered Sowers to leave, before shootingCherry, North said.

Hocking County Coroner David Cummin said eight or ninegunshots were fired during what autopsies confirm was a triple homicide followed by theassailant’s suicide.

He said Mohler died from two close-rangegunshot wounds to the head and Leroy Gilkey was killed next with three close-range

gunshot wounds to the head. Cherry then suffered of agunshot wound to the chest froman undetermined distance and a close-range gunshot wound to the head, the autopsies showed.