Elderly Phoenix couple, adult son killed in murder-suicide identified

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PHOENIX -- Investigators believe an elderly Phoenix man killed his wife, his 50-year-old son and the family dog before turning the gun on himself.

The bodies of the three people were found at a Phoenix home near 35th and Northern avenues Thursday afternoon.

The son, who has been identified as Tom D. Schmalenbach, was discovered slumped over in a chair in the backyard. His parents, both of whom were in their 80s, were inside, along with the family's dog. Police have identified them a Richard and Mary Schmalenbach.

Investigators said Richard Schmalenbach was one who pulled the trigger.

Officers were called to the home at about 2:30 p.m. Thursday, after a neighbor realized she had not seen anyone at the house for at least two days. She peeked over the wall into the backyard and saw a body in a chair. That's when she called the police.

Residents in the area told investors they heard gunshots over the weekend, possibly on Saturday.

"We heard three gunshots," said one neighbor.

Gunfire in that area is not uncommon, according to residents.

"Nobody called 911, and up until [yesterday], nobody was called." said Terry Baccellia, another neighbor. "[Yesterday], the body was discovered. One of the gentleman was sitting out by the back door in a chair, all slumped over, decomposing."

Neighbors said the couple had lived in the area for decades and mostly kept to themselves. Richard Schmalenbach reportedly was a retired Phoenix firefighter.

All of the victims died of gunshots wounds. Investigators believe it happened on Saturday, the day neighbors said they heard those gunshots.