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Retired cop's wife killed him, herself

December 11, 2000

Retired cop's wife killed him, herself



By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI AND MARLO BARNHART / Staff Writers


Related story: 2 dead in suspected murder-suicide

FAIRPLAY - The wife of a retired Washington, D.C., police officer used his gun to fire a hail of bullets at him Sunday, killing him and then taking her own life.

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An autopsy showed Joellen Markle, 49, shot her husband, Frederick Markle, 52, with a .357 Magnum five times before shooting herself in the head, deputies said.

Cpl. Pete Lazich said Markle stopped to reload, firing a total of nine bullets at her husband in their home at 8031 Fairplay Farms Road Sunday morning.

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Bullet holes were discovered in the walls of the couple's bedroom, where the bodies were found lying on either side of the bed, Lazich said.

Other guns were in the house, but none appeared to have been fired, he said.

The couple's visiting 27-year-old son was sleeping in a nearby bedroom when the shootings occurred, said Lazich.

After hearing the shots around 2 a.m., the son attempted to resuscitate his parents and then called 911.

Frederick Markle died at the scene and Joellen Markle died about six hours later at Washington County Hospital, Lazich said.

Nothing indicated the couple had fought prior to the shooting in the bedroom or elsewhere in the house.

"The house was immaculate," Lazich said.

He said he wasn't sure if Frederick Markle had been shot in his sleep. Both appeared to be dressed in pajamas, he said.

The couple had only lived in the home a few years, Lazich said. Joellen Markle was a housewife and her husband worked in security, he said.

Investigator Kenny Barnhart said the couple, who had been married nearly 30 years, had no history of violence, other than typical husband-wife arguments.

Family members were at a loss to understand what prompted Sunday's murder-suicide, investigators said.

Lazich said "there was nothing on paper but I believe domestic issues were there."

Outside the couple's Fairplay home Monday afternoon, there was nothing to indicate a murder-suicide had occurred inside.

The Markle's well-maintained, gray rancher sits on about an acre of landscaped property. The neighborhood is quiet, with newer split-level and ranch-style homes and large lots.

A white unmarked patrol car was parked in the driveway Monday afternoon, along with two sport utility wagons, two sedans and a pickup truck.

Sunday's shooting was the latest in a series of slayings in Washington County over the past two weeks.

- On Thursday, William Leonard Messersmith, 76, of 12019 National Pike was found lying in blood inside his Clear Spring home.

Preliminary reports from Maryland State Police investigators indicated he died of severe trauma, police said Friday.

Police are still looking for the weapon and hoping an official report from the Maryland State Medical Examiner's Office in Baltimore will reveal the cause of death.

- On Nov. 27, a 22-year-old mother of two was shot to death by her boyfriend, who then turned the gun on himself at her Noland Village apartment in Hagerstown, according to authorities.

Twyna Lee Katherine Stubbs and Craig Allen Hess, 23, of Martinsburg, W.Va., were found dead in an upstairs rear bedroom of the apartment around 11:40 a.m.

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