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Death of Palm Harbor couple an apparent murder-suicide

Karen Magenheimer, 54, left, and her daughter, Stacey Magenheimer, 25, recall their neighbors who were found dead in their home Wednesday in Palm Harbor.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

Karen Magenheimer, 54, left, and her daughter, Stacey Magenheimer, 25, recall their neighbors who were found dead in their home Wednesday in Palm Harbor.

PALM HARBOR — Don Campbell lived in the house at 433 Manor Blvd. for so long, neighbors knew his routine well.

He awoke daily at 7 a.m., they say.

Often, the 67-year-old retiree would go out and get coffee.

And he always retrieved his newspaper from the driveway early.

When the latter hadn't happened by midday Wednesday, some of Campbell's neighbors became concerned. One of them had a key, so they entered the home to check on Campbell and his wife, Joanna.

In the couple's bedroom, the neighbors discovered a horrific scene.

Don Campbell and Joanna Campbell, 66, were dead, the result of gunshot wounds in what authorities are calling an apparent murder-suicide.

Pinellas County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Cecilia Barreda did not say who deputies think pulled the trigger, or what type of gun was used.

"I'm just in disbelief," said Karen Magenheimer, who lives next door. "They were good people."

Dena Economos, an office clerk at Tarpon Springs Middle School, said Campbell taught social studies there for several years before retiring earlier this decade. He continued to substitute at the school and had done so recently, she said.

"I worked in the same hallway with him for 14 years," Economos said. "He was a wonderful teacher and was well loved by colleagues and students. I'm totally shocked right now. He was a good man."

Neighbors praised Don and Joanna Campbell, who were known to most as "Don and Jo." According to Magenheimer, the couple had lived in the home for about 20 years.

The couple finished paying off the mortgage to their home in July, records show.

"Never, never, never would I have believed this would happen," Magenheimer said.

Joanna Campbell mostly stayed inside, Magenheimer said.

Her husband, however, was outdoors a lot and liked to bike and kayak. Magenheimer's daughter, Stacey, 25, knew the couple for most of her life and described Don Campbell as an outgoing person who enjoyed scaring her on Halloween when she was younger.

"Awhile back, my husband (Bill) hurt his knee so he couldn't mow the lawn," Karen Magenheimer said. "Don mowed it for us. He wouldn't let me do it."

Karen Magenheimer said she last saw Don Campbell on Tuesday.

"He was walking around the house and cleaning a pool filter," she said. "I said 'Hi' and he said 'Hi,' and that was it. There was nothing unusual."

Detectives arrived at the Campbell house at 12:56 p.m. Wednesday.

Later, the couple's daughter, Kelly Campbell, showed up with another family member, neighbors said.

"I just hugged her and cried," Karen Magenheimer said.

A van from the Medical Examiner's Office backed into the home's driveway at 3:55 p.m. One of the bodies was loaded into the vehicle at 4:15 and the other at 4:30.

Moments later, the van pulled away, driving over the newspaper, which remained at the end of the driveway.

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed. Keith Niebuhr can be reached at kniebuhr@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4156.

Death of Palm Harbor couple an apparent murder-suicide 04/01/09 [Last modified: Thursday, April 2, 2009 6:18am]
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