Pa. couple, child found dead

July 10, 1998

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer


Pa. couple, child found deadBy TERRY TALBERT / Staff Writer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The bodies of a young couple and their 3-year-old daughter were found in their home here early Thursday in what is believed to have been a double murder-suicide.

All three had been shot, authorities said.

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Franklin County Coroner Kenneth Peiffer identified the victims as Brenton J. Upperman, 33, Kimberly A. Upperman, 32, and 3-year-old Madalynn S. Upperman.

Peiffer said all three died instantly. He said the bodies of the mother and daughter were found in a bed in an upstairs child's bedroom in the family home at 457 S. Seventh St.


Brenton Upperman's body was found in a bed in the upstairs master bedroom, Peiffer said. He, too, died from a gunshot wound, he said.

All three were dressed in nightclothes, Peiffer said.

A gun was found in the master bedroom, where Brenton Upperman's body was found, Peiffer said.

Peiffer estimated the time of death at 6 a.m. All three were officially pronounced dead at 8:11 a.m., he said.

Chambersburg Police Chief Michael DeFrank said all three were shot with a revolver.

He said Kimberly Upperman and her daughter suffered "multiple wounds," while Brenton Upperman was shot once.

DeFrank said a preliminary investigation led him to believe Brenton Upperman shot his wife and child, and then committed suicide.

"We understand they were having marital problems and they were trying to work their way through it, and just didn't give it quite enough time," he said.

Autopsies on all three family members are to be conducted this morning in Chambersburg, he said.

DeFrank said officers went to the house at 7:47 a.m. after Kimberly Upperman's mother called police after finding the bodies.

He said the mother arrived at the house to baby-sit, went upstairs and found the bodies.

DeFrank said no one in the area to whom police talked Thursday morning reported hearing gunshots. He said officers would be canvassing the neighborhood and talking to more families.

"Our work is far from over," DeFrank said.

The tree-lined, middle-class neighborhood in which the Uppermans lived was described as "quiet and peaceful" by one resident who asked that his name not be used. He said the Uppermans moved into their home down the street just two years ago.

As investigators worked at the scene and the bodies were taken away Thursday morning, neighbors sat on their porches or stood quietly talking.

"It's devastating," said Beverly Stepler, who lives across the street. "Kim's mother came down this morning to baby-sit. I heard her screaming, and I threw on my clothes and came down. I wasn't even dressed yet. She was screaming 'Help! I need help!' That little girl was the joy of her grandmother's life."

Stepler said the Uppermans were nice neighbors. She said Kimberly Upperman and she would exchange baked goods.

"All three of them came over two nights ago and we sat on the front porch and talked for about an hour," Stepler said.

Stepler said she had not known the couple was having problems.

Another neighbor who did not want his name used said he came back from a round of golf to find police cars dotting the street.

"When I left this morning, I saw his (Upperman's) red truck over there," he said. "Usually, it's gone by then. But I didn't think anything about it. I can't imagine this happening ... She was such a cute little girl."

Josh Kriner said he worked with Brenton Upperman and Upperman's brother at Upperman's Water Treatment Service company at 1126 N. Franklin St.

He said he was supposed to meet Brenton Upperman at the business at 5:30 a.m. They were to drive to Virginia to install a system there, he said.

Kriner said he waited until 7:30 a.m. and then drove by the Upperman house and saw Kim Upperman's parents' truck outside the home.

Thinking Brenton Upperman must be awake, he said he started driving back to the store, when he saw two police cars "zip by" and turn onto Seventh Street. He turned around and saw they had stopped at the Upperman home.

The Uppermans lived in a two-story house with tan siding and dark blue shutters. Planters with red geraniums and foliage plants flank the door on the brick front patio, and a wreath graces the front door.

On Thursday, yellow police tape encircled the front of the home.

Kimberly Upperman, formerly Kimberly Kiser, was in the Chambersburg Senior High School graduating class of 1984, according to the school yearbook. Brenton Upperman was in the graduating class of 1982, the yearbook showed.

Upperman played varsity soccer for the Trojans in 1981 and belonged to the school's C-Club, according to the yearbook.

Staff Writer Don Aines contributed to this report.

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