Family found dead in Pennsylvania made a 'joint decision' to kill themselves, police say
A Pennsylvania family found shot dead in their backyard last week in what police say appears to be a suicide pact, included a mother and daughter who loved bowling and were devout Christian conservatives, people who knew them said.
Morgan Daub, 26, and her parents, James Daub, 62, and Deborah Daub, 59, were found dead on the ground in the backyard of their home in York County, Pennsylvania, on the morning of Jan. 25, after police responded to a request for a welfare check from a neighbor.
The West Manchester Township Police Department has since said that notes left inside the house indicate that the family recently made a "joint decision" to end their lives. Police believe Deborah Daub shot and killed her husband and then was shot and killed by Morgan, who died by suicide. Police said there were no signs of forced entry or struggle and no evidence that anyone else had been present.
An investigation into the deaths has been closed.
People who knew the family expressed shock and heartbreak at the deaths. Morgan was described by members of the local bowling community as a shy, quiet young woman who was close with her mother and also a talented and avid bowler until she and her mother suddenly stopped visiting bowling stores and alleys in the area a few years ago, around the start of the pandemic.
“Morgan didn’t have a lot of words to say,” said Bret Stabley, who operates the pro shop at Bowlers Supply in York, Pennsylvania, where the mother and daughter were longtime customers. Stabley said he believed Morgan, whom he described as “very meek and quiet” but also “very bright,” was homeschooled and her mother often spoke on her behalf.
Stabley said he gave Morgan many bowling lessons over the years, and she became more sociable as she grew older. She was also “quite a good bowler,” he said.
Stabley said the Christian, churchgoing family “was never shy about letting anybody know what their beliefs were” when it came to religion and politics. Morgan and Deborah “very, very huge” supporters of former President Donald Trump, Stabley said.
“They were just so hell-bent on Trump winning, like this could be in the end if he doesn’t,” Stabley said, referring to an instance when he saw them just before the 2020 election. He said he stopped seeing the two after that.
A neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of personal or professional retaliation in their town, said the family had a "preoccupation with religion, especially on the dad’s part." The family's front yard was also "littered" with Pro-Trump political signs during the elections, and anti-abortion signs when Roe v. Wade was overturned, the neighbor said.
Terry Miller, the owner of Suburban Bowlerama, said Morgan and Deborah came to his bowling center a couple of times a week. “She grew up here,” he said of Morgan.
“To me, just watching their interactions they just enjoyed it, they seemed to spend a lot of time together,” he said.
But Morgan and Deborah suddenly stopped coming by around 2019, Miller said.
Looking back, he said, it was “definitely, definitely weird” that the two stopped coming in.
Stabley said he was disturbed to see recent videos appearing to show Morgan on YouTube. In the videos, which the West Manchester Township Police Department has also said appear to show Morgan, the young woman speaks in stream-of-conscious fashion about God, the Antichrist and conspiracies about Trump and the 2020 election. Stabley said he is haunted by Morgan’s laughter in the videos.
“I never, ever, ever saw Morgan in that state,” he said.
Detective Timothy Fink said in a statement to NBC News on Friday that Deborah Daub left a written document, signed Jan. 19, in which “she speaks of a joint decision” by her and Morgan to end their lives. It refers to the "evil that has mounted against Morgan," but does not go into further detail, Fink said.
Morgan and her father also left notes indicating that the family had planned how to carry out the shootings and made other preparations, including what to do with the family dog and assets.
Those notes were dated Jan. 24, a day before the bodies of the family were found.
Police said that the positioning of the bodies, the two guns found at scene, the shell casings and other evidence “support the account put forward by the written documents left behind by the family,” that “all three family members decided to end their lives on 1/24/2023.”
Meanwhile, the neighbor said they are in "shock and disbelief" that something like this could happen "so close to home."
"When I interacted with them in person, they kept it under wraps," the neighbor said. "I didn’t see that break through the surface at all."
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. You can also call the network, previously known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com