Jan. 25—The deaths of two children and their father at a Preble County home is being investigated as a murder-suicide, Preble County Sheriff Mike Simpson said.
Shane Elliott, 40, and his children, Caleb Elliott, 13, and Grace Elliott, 10, were found dead Monday by deputies after the children's mother called 911 to check on them at the house in the 9200 block of Greenbush Road in Gratis Twp.
All three suffered gunshot wounds and were found in the living room, Simpson said. There was no sign of a struggle, he said. A handgun was found at the scene and it appears the father shot his children and then killed himself.
The bodies were taken to the Montgomery County Coroner's Office, where autopsies were expected to be performed Tuesday. Simpson declined to say how many times or where on their bodies the trio had been shot.
Kellie Elliott called the sheriff's office Monday morning when Shane Elliott failed to drop off the children at Preble Shawnee High School after a weekend visit. Kellie Elliott filed for divorce in 2020, but it was not yet final, according to the Preble County Clerk of Courts records.
In the call, Kellie Elliott said Shane Elliott was scheduled to meet her for a parenting exchange at 7 a.m. but he did not show up. Simpson said he also did not report for work at Weber's Body and Frame in West Alexandria.
When Kellie Elliott checked the Greenbush Road house, she found the car in the driveway, but no signs of people.
"I have been out here honking," she told a dispatcher about 10:30 a.m. She said she did not want to knock on the door because of "high conflict and a domestic violence situation, and I don't want to be knocking on the door."
Calls were not returned from her children or Shane Elliot, she said.
"There is no movement of curtains or blinds. I have been out here for five minutes honking and there is nothing going on inside," Kellie Elliott told the dispatcher in a call obtained by this news outlet.
Deputies arrived and forced entry into the house.
A Facebook post by Shane Elliott published on his page at 1:18 a.m. Monday seemed to voice his frustration with the divorce process.
"Equality in parenting should never have to spend multiple years in court ... I thought the system would help my kids but I was wrong," Shane Elliott said in part in his post.
Simpson said the deaths happened overnight, but he could not specify whether it was in the early morning hours after Shane Elliott's post was made.
Kellie Elliott told this news outlet via message that she and Shane Elliott had many years of turmoil. She said she fought the courts "to get my children, but all they would say is 'you went back' so how can we take the kids? No one would do an investigation on him."
A contested final hearing in the divorce before a magistrate was scheduled for Dec. 21, but continued until March, according to court records. The Elliotts also filed for divorce in 2015, but it was dismissed.
A letter sent by the Preble Shawnee Local School District to families of students said the children died as a result of "a tragic event."
One of the Elliott children was a fourth-grader at Preble Shawnee Elementary. The other was a seventh-grader at Preble Shawnee Middle School.
"At this time we do not have any information to share about the situation," Superintendent Todd Bowling stated in the letter.
Grief counselors were available Tuesday for students in the district.
"Preble Shawnee is a small but supportive community. Both students were well known and liked by fellow students and staff. This is a tough time for our Arrow family, but we will be supportive of the family, our students, and staff as needed," Bowling told this news outlet.
Joshua Pergram, who lives nearby, stopped by the house Monday evening with his two daughters to place a memorial with teddy bears, sports balls, candles and flowers.
"We brought it out here to get it started because we know how this community is. It is going to affect the whole community. One of the boys was in football so we brought a football," Pergram said. "We have a good community and school. The teachers are awesome out here. One of the kids said they noticed that some of the teachers were crying. It is going to affect everyone," he said.