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Man who murdered family had history of mental illness

STAMFORD, N.Y. -- A 23-year-old Delaware County man who killed four members of his family before dying in a shootout with police had assaulted his father earlier this year with an axe, authorities said Friday.

Eban McDowell was shot and killed Thursday after he fired a shotgun blast in the direction of state troopers and sheriff's deputies who cornered him at a remote pond near the Deer Run ski resort on the Delaware-Schoharie County border, about 55 miles southwest of Albany.

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Earlier that day, the bodies of his father, Robert McDowell, 59, his mother Elizabeth, 48, his brother Daniel,, 22, and grandfather Charles Klepetar, 78, were found at Klepetar's hunting cabin outside the village of Stamford.

Police said Klepetar was killed in his bed while the bodies of Robert and Daniel McDowell were found outside near a pond. Elizabeth McDowell's body was found in the pond, where police speculate she had tried to flee from her son.

Police say they think the killings occurred late Wednesday.

Delaware County District Attorney Malcolm Hughes said Eban McDowell was arrested in January on a reckless endangerment charge after attacking his father, an attorney, with an axe. Hughes said Eban McDowell spent time in various psychiatric programs and was a diagnosed schizophrenic.

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'Bob (McDowell) didn't want me to pursue the charges,' Hughes said.

Delaware County Sheriff Paul Peterson said he understood Eban McDowell had shown threatening behavior towards his family at other times, once even punching his father in the face.

Hughes said Eban McDowell left a note on the door of his father's office in Stamford after the killings and intended it to be interpreted by police as a note from his father.

'Basically it alluded to the fact that he was sorry it happened and he wanted it to appear it was Bob writing it,' Hughes said.

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