Police label deaths of seven in burning trailer a murder-suicide

AVA, Ohio - Seven members of a family were found dead inside their burning trailer early Monday in what police said appeared to be a murder-suicide.

''Somebody in that house we feel was involved in firearms, and the last man standing probably set the fire,'' Noble County Sheriff Landon T. Smith said Monday afternoon.

The bodies of Richard Pangle, 37, his wife, Sheryl, 29, and their five children - ages 5-12 - were found after a report of a fire about 3 a.m. Monday.

Smith said the fire had been set, but he would not say how or who authorities believe may have committed the slayings.

An automatic pistol and three shotguns were found near the bodies of the parents, and the oldest daughter was in the living room, where spent cartridges were found, Smith said.

The children were identified as Kayla, 12, Brett, 10, Derek, 7, and twins Trina and Trinda, 5.

Smith, who had known the family for years, said there had been no reports of domestic violence at the house, but he said the couple had been discussing a divorce.

A neighbor in a camper about 20 feet from the trailer, at the end of a gravel road in a rural, hilly area of eastern Ohio, saw the fire and ran to a nearby home to call for help, Smith said.

Sheryl Pangle's mother lives nearby on the same property, which is owned by the family. Her brother, Lloyd Anderson, said Richard Pangle doted on his children and recently bought all of them new bicycles.

He had been working for a company that manufactures shipping containers in nearby Caldwell, a town of about 1,700 about 75 miles east of Columbus.

Monday afternoon, the bicycles and children's toys were scattered across the property. The front half of the brown-and-white trailer was destroyed, with only a charred stove standing in what appeared to be the kitchen. The back half of the trailer was standing, a burned-out shell.

Crying family members and friends gathered near the trailer and comforted one another. Sheriff's Detective Steven Hannum said investigators were also having a difficult time emotionally.

''These folks are known by many of the people who live in Noble County,'' he said.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment