FLORAL CITY — At 3 a.m. Sunday, Eddie Silcox placed a call to 911 and calmly gave the dispatcher the address to his home in this rural part of Citrus County.
Silcox did not bother with the phone number. He was in a hurry.
"I'm just going to let you know that I just shot my wife," Silcox told the dispatcher. "And I'm going to shoot myself."
The dispatcher tried to reason with him. Then he tried to stall Silcox. But none of it worked. "Please don't let my sons find out about this," Silcox said.
And then the phone went dead.
When deputies arrived at the home, they found a grisly crime scene: the longtime Florida Highway Patrol trooper had apparently shot and killed his wife of nearly 30 years, Sandra.
Silcox was injured from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was taken to Citrus Memorial Hospital in Inverness, where he died of his wounds, officials said.
The Citrus County Sheriff's Office released a recording of the nearly two-minute 911 call Monday, even as investigators tried to figure out a motive in the apparent murder-suicide at the couple's home at 4525 E Seese Lane.
In the final seconds of the 911 call, Silcox told the dispatcher not to bother helping him. "I've been depressed," he said. "And I can't take it anymore."
Preliminary autopsy results suggest Silcox did not use his patrol-issued gun in the shooting but instead used a different weapon that he owned.
For those who knew the couple and their two sons — one a Air Force Academy graduate stationed in Hawaii and the other a 17-year-old only a month away from graduating from Citrus High School — the brutal crime was a shock to those who came to regard them as "the perfect family."
"They were fantastic, caring and loving people," longtime neighbor Bonnie Dreher said. "If someone tells you something else, it's a lie."
Dreher said Eddie Silcox moved out of the home only about a week ago. She wasn't sure where he had been staying since leaving the house.
The Sheriff's Office said there had been no previous calls to law enforcement from the couple's home. And there was no indication that Sandra Silcox had ever sought a protective order against her husband.
Both were 48 years old.
Eddie Silcox was assigned to Highway Patrol Troop C, which patrols roads and highways around much of the Tampa Bay area. Florida Highway Patrol spokesman Mark Welch said the only blemishes on Silcox's record were five vehicle accidents, only one of which was found to be his fault. That came in 2003, when he backed his vehicle into a stump.
Silcox received eight letters of commendation during his career, including once for working the Super Bowl.
Highway Patrol spokesman Larry Kraus said Silcox kept his personal life separate from his work duties, and had "no record of any kind of violent past" during his time with the patrol.
Sandra Silcox was a registered nurse who worked as the director of clinical services for Senior Health Care in Inverness. She had worked for the company since 2008.
"We extend our heartfelt thoughts and condolences to her family and friends during this difficult time," Lynne Hebert, the company's chief operating officer, said in a statement.
In online social networking profiles on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, the couple gave no clue that anything was wrong. They projected an image of familial bliss and nonstop activity.
Eddie Silcox listed his interests on MySpace as football, NASCAR, fishing, country and Christian music and family. On Facebook, Sandra Silcox wrote that, "I may be a prissy professional from 9 to 5 … but the real me loves to wear jeans and boots, go to rodeos and watch my son … ride bulls!"
In her final post on Facebook, Silcox tells friends — in all capital letters — about a fun night spent at the rodeo. A friend responded: "Had a blast. Be safe."
Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report. Joel Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 754-6120. You can follow Joel on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jandersontimes.