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It's cases like the recent four Mid-Missouri homicides, followed by the suspect's suicide, that collectively breaks our hearts and shakes our faith in humanity.

As we reported last week, J.T. McLean, 45, was found dead in a vehicle from a self- inflicted gunshot wound in Elk Point, South Dakota.

The case started when Mid- Missouri authorities searched for McLean on Aug. 22 after finding Fulton school teacher Allison Abitz, 43, and her daughter Jozee, 11, dead in their home south of Columbia.

Officials said evidence indicated Abitz had been strangled and her daughter had been drowned. McLean, who had been Allison's boyfriend, was later charged with first- degree murder in the deaths of the mother and daughter.

On Wednesday, Miller County deputies found Daniel Stephan, 74, and Pamela Stephan, 64, dead in the 300 block of Rout D in Kaiser.

The couple was related to one of McLean's ex-wives.

Authorities believe McLean stole a truck. The truck's OnStar system led them to a motel in South Dakota. They tried to make contact with him in the vehicle, but found him dead in the vehicle from a self-inflicted gunshot.

Boone County Sheriff's Department Capt. Brian Leer said family members related to the Stephans lived in the area where McLean reportedly killed himself.

We may never know the exact circumstances of the killings. Leer said they had no motive determined for the crimes. Trying to make sense of what we see as senseless crimes is tough. Was it sheer anger? Did it involve mental health or addiction issues?

Social media comments have been filled with grief and outrage.

Cases like this, fortunately, are not common to Mid-Missouri.

We thank the law enforcement who handled the case. Leer said investigators in his department "poured their heart and soul into this investigation."

But most of all, we grief for the families of the deceased and we hope and pray they can find peace.

News Tribune

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