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Land O'Lakes couple found dead in apparent murder-suicide

LAND O'LAKES — The bodies of a man and woman were discovered Thursday afternoon in the bedroom of a home in Lake Padgett Estates.

The deaths appear to be a murder-suicide, deputies said. They have not released the names of the individuals, pending notification of their families.

Both victims were shot with a rifle, said Pasco County Sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll. It appears the man shot and killed the woman before turning the gun on himself.

"At this point we are doing background on both of these people to determine the dynamics of their relationship," said Sgt. Mel Eakley of the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.

Eakley said the man and woman, both in their 30s, appeared to be in a relationship but were not married. They did not have any children, he said.

Neighbors said the couple had two dogs, which were unharmed.

The couple, who lived at 22535 Stillwood Drive, told neighbors about a month ago that they were having an engagement party. Property records show the large gray home on the edge of the cul-de-sac belongs to Melissa M. Howard, who is listed in state records as a nurse practitioner.

None of the neighbors reported hearing gun shots Wednesday night or Thursday morning.

After the woman didn't show up for work Thursday, a co-worker went to check on her and found the bodies in the bedroom, the Sheriff's Office said. The colleague called deputies just before 1 p.m.

Several women in professional work clothes stood outside the home Thursday afternoon, talking with deputies. They did not wish to speak to a reporter.

A blonde woman sat behind the yellow police tape blocking the lawn, sobbing.

Helen Anne Travis can be reached at htravis@sptimes.com or (813) 435-7312.

Land O'Lakes couple found dead in apparent murder-suicide 08/20/09 [Last modified: Thursday, August 20, 2009 10:26pm]
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