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Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Police: Shootings occurred quickly

By Shelley Grieshop
CELINA - Investigators believe the city's recent murder-suicide was planned and executed swiftly in the basement of the home the couple once shared.
"It was like he was on a mission," Celina Police Chief Dave Slusser said, describing the actions of Eric Vann, 34, who fatally shot his estranged wife, April Vann, 33, and then himself on Friday afternoon.
Slusser said there were no signs of a struggle, argument or conversation at the house at 719 S. Elm St.
"I think he knew she would fight and would try to defend herself," he added.
The couple were living apart after 15 years of marriage and April Vann had recently filed separation paperwork, police said. Following his arrest in September for operating a vehicle while intoxicated and using a weapon while intoxicated, a No Contact Order was put in place to keep Eric Vann away from his wife and her home. The order recently was amended to allow visitation with his children.
On Friday, Eric Vann reportedly parked his vehicle on South Street, about a half block from the home, and walked south behind other residences on the 700 block until he reached his destination.
"He then jumped the fence and walked through the backyard, entering the house where he located his wife in a laundry room and immediately shot her before turning the gun on himself," Slusser wrote in a press release.
Eric Vann "stood with his back to the only way out" of the basement when he shot his wife, Slusser told The Daily Standard.
A preliminary autopsy report confirmed that April and Eric Vann died as a result of a single gunshot wound to the head. Eric Vann's wound appears to be self-inflicted, the report noted. A complete toxicology report is expected in six weeks.
The couple have three children, ages 4, 7 and 11; the two oldest were in school during the shooting. The 4-year-old, along with six other children being cared for by April Vann, were in the backyard or inside the home when the tragic incident occurred. None were harmed.
Police say none of the children witnessed the shooting but several saw Eric Vann enter the yard and home.
Independent interviews with the children - all younger than 6 - revealed they heard two shots, entered the basement and saw the bodies in the laundry room before heading to a neighbor's home to seek help.
"I'm not saying they didn't see the aftermath, I know they saw the aftermath and knew they had to go get help," Slusser said.
It's Slusser's belief that April Vann sometime previously told the children to go to the neighbor's house "if they saw Eric or there was a problem," he said.
The group of children included a 5-year-old, two 3-year-olds, a 4-year-old, a 1-year-old, an 8-month-old and a child believed to be 3 or 4.
Much of the conversation sweeping through the community is focused on the amazing actions of the youngsters. Before exiting the home, they apparently tried to lift the 8-month-old from a playpen in the home but failed because the sides were too high, the children told officers.
Their teamwork, however, freed another baby.
"Two of them worked together to get the 1-year-old out," Slusser said, adding he wasn't exactly sure where that child was at the time.
The children fled to the neighbor's home where a woman at that location placed a frantic 911 call shortly before 2 p.m.
"The children she (April) baby-sits for just came to the house and said Eric came in with a gun ... they said Eric and April are dead," the woman told the dispatcher.
The woman's voice on the 911 recording gets louder and more intense as she tells the dispatcher "there's another baby in there."
Soon after officers arrived at Vann's home they retrieved the baby from the playpen.
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