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Four Dead in Murder-Suicide In Colorado Springs

August 21, 1987

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) _ A retired schoolteacher upset over family troubles and still suffering the effects of a stroke killed his wife, daughter and grandson, then shot himself to death, authorities said.

Colorado Springs Police Department spokesman Lt. Joe Vernier said Henry Waller, 56, left ″a classic death note.″

Ed Beck, pastor of Sunrise United Methodist Church, where the Wallers were active members, said Henry Waller was ″devastated″ by his daughter’s recent marital troubles and had suffered from stress and bouts of paranoia since he suffered a stroke three years ago.

″He acted out that which he feared the most on those he moved the most,″ Beck said.

Olla Mae Waller, 54, was apparently strangled, while daughter Lucinda Joan Zupan, 30, and grandson Brandon Zupan, 7, died of gunshot wounds to the head, Vernier said.

Mrs. Waller had multiple sclerosis and was usually confined to a wheelchair.

Waller’s fatal gunshot wound apparently was self-inflicted, authorities said. He was holding his dead grandson in his left arm and a .357 revolver in his right hand, Vernier said.

Vernier said a note found in Waller’s hand gave instructions on his will and said he was ″feeling stress from a family situation.″ A second note ″leads police to believe all three murders were planned,″ Vernier said.

The killings occurred Thursday as Lucinda Zupan, a registered nurse, came to her parents’ home to drop off her son before she went to work at St. Francis Hospital.

A neighbor, Margaret Mestas, said shortly after the Zupans arrived she heard what she thought were three firecrackers.

Authorities said a caller to the emergency police number, 911, reported a woman’s voice saying ″What do you want from me?″ outside the apartment where the shots were fired.

The Wallers frequently baby-sat Brandon, their only grandchild, said Mestas. ″They loved him very much, and he loved them very much. They were worried that if a divorce would come, it would affect his upbringing.″

Mrs. Zupan was separated from her husband, Robert Zupan, 31, a radiology technician at Memorial Hospital here.

Friends said that the Wallers believed in the power of prayer and that the night before the slayings they, as captains of a prayer chain, asked fellow church members to join in a prayer chain.