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County commissioner, family shot dead in Missouri

SULLIVAN, Mo. -- A county commissioner apparently shot five members of his family to death before turning the gun on himself at his rural home in eastern Missouri, authorities said Saturday.

Franklin County Commissioner Neil Schatz, said to have been depressed recently, was found dead along with his wife, adult son, daughter, and two grandsons.

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Investigators saidSchatz died of a self-inflicted gunshot in the basement of his home, while the other victims were found upstairs.

Franklin County Sheriff Gary Tolke said a preliminary investigation showed all of the victims were killed by shotgun blasts. He said authorities believed Schatz killed his wife, son and daughter, and two grandchildren before killing himself.

Other relatives who attended a family gathering at the home Friday night said the shootings must have occurred sometime after they left. Relatives of Schatz said he had been depressed recently about health problems.

'Basically, what we have now appears to be a homicide-suicide,' Tolke said.

Tolke said family members indicated Schatz, 55, a contractor, had been depressed the last several weeks, and that fellow commissioners indicated he might be resigning from his government position.

The sheriff said he knew Schatz and called him 'quiet.'

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'He was a really nice fellow,' Tolke said. 'The family was well- respected in the area.'

The sheriff's office was notified of the killings shortly before 8:30 a.m.

The bodies were found in Schatz's home in a rural area near Sullivan, about 50 miles southwest of St. Louis, sheriff's Capt. Don Jones said.

Along with Schatz, the victims included his wife, Sarah, 53; their son, Ed, 32, who lived with them; and Ed Schatz's son, Brett, 8, who lived with his mother in High Ridge.

The other victims were identified as Cindy Schatz Lamb, 30, of Dallas, Texas, and her 3-month-old son, Ryan. Lamb and her son were visiting her parents' home, Jones said.

A relative living next door to Schatz's home told authorities she had found four bodies Saturday morning, Jones said. He said sheriff's deputies who entered the home found two more victims.

Four of the victims were found in their beds and apparently were shot in their sleep, Jones said. A fifth victim was found near a telephone, while Schatz's body was found in the basement.

Jones said all of the victims had been killed by blasts from a 12- gauge shotgun.

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