CLEARWATER — When police discovered Morgana Armes, 40, and Shawn Patrick Oelker, 50, dead of gunshot wounds in a Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard apartment complex Thursday, they used stretchers to march the covered bodies from the second-floor unit as neighbors snapped photos.
The scene felt ceremonial, with onlookers looking on in quiet reverence. And it marked a violent end to two troubled lives, according to interviews and police reports.
Neighbors at the 2909 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd. complex did not know the couple by name, but reported they were always cordial. Nobody detected violence in the home.
On Friday, police ruled Oelker's death a suicide. Investigators couldn't determine whether Armes killed herself or was a homicide victim.
For Armes, it was a tragic end to a life of struggle, said James Terry Henzerling of Cincinnati, who was married to Armes for nine years and has been divorced for 11.
"She had a rough life," Henzerling said, adding that he never remarried. "She was a good girl, a loving soul. She didn't need to die like this."
He said Armes was grieving for their 20-year-old son, Zachary Aaron James Henzerling, killed three days after Christmas by an explosion in a Cincinnati chemical plant.
"She loved that boy," Henzerling said. "He was everything to her. Just like he was everything to me."
Armes was a trust-fund baby, Henzerling said. Her dad, a wealthy businessman, was shot in the back of the head during a Halloween party. A family member embezzled the money and her mom had a string of boyfriends who abused her, Henzerling said.
A drug overdose in her mid-20s sent Armes into a three-week coma.
But she had good times, too, Armes said. She loved Bon Jovi and attended concerts.
When they met, she had broken her leg in a motorcycle accident. They were playing cards, and she offered to rub his back. He kissed her.
"After that it was on," he said. "I still love her. I wouldn't have married her if I didn't love her."
Oelker's sister, Sherri Burich, said Armes and Oelker got together about nine years ago.
He was a machine operator with a witty sense of humor. He loved sky diving, and dreamed of flying a plane or helicopter.
He was arrested several times, mostly on alcohol-related charges, according to records. Both Armes and Oelker struggled with alcohol, Burich said.
A police officer told Burich the positioning of the bodies points to a double-suicide, she said, with Armes killing herself first and Oelker later.
"She was so depressed over her son," Burich added.
The bodies were discovered after Oelker was absent from work for several days.
Oelker had a daughter and an adopted daughter, both adults.
He was in madly in love with Armes, Burich added.
"They would go to shows or flea markets or walking on the beach," she said. "They had their spats but they came together on things."
Contact Brittany Alana Davis at [email protected] or 727-445-4155.