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Ohio Community in Shock Over Shootings

June 4, 2005

BELLEFONTAINE, Ohio (AP) _ Gary Shafer was making breakfast when his grandson walked into his farmhouse early last Sunday, placed the barrel of a small-caliber rifle loosely against the older man’s neck and fired three times, killing him. Two shots in the right side, one in the left.

Next door, the gunman’s mother and his friends were asleep when he arrived. Scott Moody, 18, walked from room to room in the quiet house, holding the rifle lightly against his victims, firing bullets into their temples or necks. He then killed himself.

A week after Moody and five others died in the murder-suicide, details about the crime have come from autopsies, and court records have revealed signs of fractures and financial troubles in the family.

Yet neighbors and friends say they still cannot place the quiet boy they knew in such a chilling picture.

``I just don’t understand,″ said Mabel Watt, a neighbor of the family for more than 40 years. ``The young boy, I just can’t picture him doing this.″

Moody and one of the shooting victims were to be among 49 students graduating later that day from Riverside High School in nearby De Graff. The shootings happened just hours after a graduation party, where friends said Moody played pool and watched television.

People who knew Moody said he helped out on the family’s dairy farm and was active in his school’s agriculture program, showing cattle at the state fair. Bernie Pachmayer, superintendent of Riverside Local Schools, said his teachers saw him as reserved and respectful.

``We cannot adjust to thinking of Scott in the way that he would take all these lives,″ Pachmayer said.

Funerals for the victims began Friday, drawing hundreds of mourners.

Logan County Sheriff Michael Henry said he hopes the services and burials will help residents begin to heal, but Pachmayer and Watt said most residents are still in shock.

``Every time I go to town, I pass their houses ... It makes you sick in the pit of your stomach,″ Watt said.

The two white houses where the shootings took place are just outside Bellefontaine, a city of 13,000 people surrounded by corn and soybean fields, about 45 miles northwest of Columbus.

On that Sunday morning, one farmhouse held the bodies of Gary Shafer, 67, and his wife, Sharyl, 66, who had been helping prepare their meal. Preliminary autopsy results show she was shot once in the neck at close range and was hit in the face by a bullet that might have been a ricochet.

Moody’s 37-year-old mother, Sheri Shafer, and two friends died of single gunshot wounds.

Moody shot himself once in the neck and probably switched hands before firing a second, fatal shot through the roof of his mouth, authorities said. A medical examiner found gunshot wounds on Moody below his left ear and through the right side of the roof of the mouth, according to a preliminary autopsy report obtained Friday by The Columbus Dispatch.

The autopsy said the first bullet lodged in his sinuses, and wasn’t fatal because the .22-caliber rifle found at the scene lacked enough power.

Experts said it’s rare for people to shoot themselves more than once in the head.

Moody’s 15-year-old sister was wounded, but made it downstairs to the kitchen to call for help.

Henry said those in the second house probably did not wake up at the first shot because the rifle used is not very loud, and close contact with the victim can muffle the sound.

The sheriff has offered several possible motives, including financial problems on the family farm, lingering troubles from the gunman’s parents’ divorce or an argument with his grandfather.

Moody’s former stepfather, Stephen Wolfe, said it is hard to believe those kinds of domestic difficulties led to six deaths.

``I know part of what the problems were when I was married,″ said Wolfe, who said his marriage to Sheri Shafer broke up largely because of financial strains. ``I didn’t see that they would be that much of a problem as to cause that kind of a response.″

He and others aren’t sure all the details will ever be filled in.

Henry has said investigators will speak with Moody’s sister, Stacy, who was finally able to speak with her father after a tube was removed. But he doubts she can reveal much because she was asleep.

Investigators are also still waiting on the results of toxicology and forensic tests that might show if drugs or alcohol played a role.

But Henry said his focus now is helping residents heal.

``We’re trying to get back to some semblance of normalcy,″ he said.

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