Elderly man and wife die in apparent murder-suicide on a quiet Troutdale street
Neighbors of an elderly couple found dead in their Troutdale house Thursday afternoon, Oct. 6, of an apparent murder-suicide are stunned.
They are left to wonder about what happened before and after the husband reportedly made a call to 9-1-1 - a call that led to the unexpected arrival of dozens of police, the closure of area roads, a lockdown at a nearby school and the evacuation of nearby residents.
Few neighbors who gathered around the vicinity of the house Thursday evening said they knew the deceased couple, who were later identified by police as Edward J. Lopes, 87, and Frances Lopes, 92.
The couple resided in a two-story house at 2232 S.W. Larsson Ave. in the Woodale Park neighborhood. Edward Lopes was known to wear white overalls around the house and when he worked in the yard. Their daughter came by the house every weekend or so to help care for her mother, who was bedridden and terminally ill, possibly with vision problems, neighbors said.
One neighbor, however, said she has lived in the neighborhood for nine years but was unaware that Edward Lopes had a wife.
Police, including officers from Troutdale, Fairview, Gresham and the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office, surrounded the house and unsuccessfully attempted to contact the residents. After a nearly four-hour standoff, members of the Multnomah County Special Weapons and Tactics team entered the house.
The deceased husband and wife were found lying together on the bed in the bedroom.
Edward Lopes had apparently shot his wife in the head. It's believed that he then lay down beside her and shot himself.
In searching the house, police found that the couple's belongings were packed up and important family documents left on the kitchen table.
Detectives with the Troutdale Police Department and the East County Major Crimes Team are still investigating the case, but it's believed that the deaths were a murder-suicide, said Sgt. Marc Shrake, Troutdale police spokesman.
It's the first murder in Troutdale in more than three years. Gresham resident William Henry Knepper Jr. pleaded guilty in March 2009 of murdering his mother-in-law, Paula Daralee Jordan, 68, of Troutdale in June 2008.
Neighbors react to news
Neighbor Heather Williams said she was Edward Lopes' dental hygienist for five years when she worked in Gresham. Lopes was a 'normal, older patient' who diligently showed up for his appointments every six months, she said.
Lopes always brought a box of chocolate mint candies, Williams said, joking that he wanted to rot her teeth, too.
'It's sad. It's kind of a trip when you're that close,' Williams said on Thursday while watching police outside of the Lopes' home. 'My mind is going a mile a minute.'
Williams, who resides on Southwest 22nd Street around the corner from Larsson Avenue, said she moved into the neighborhood more than a year ago and was unaware that the Lopes lived nearby, as Williams had since started working at a different dental office. Williams said she recognized Lopes and introduced herself as his former dental hygienist, which he remembered.
Williams said she last spoke to Edward Lopes a few weeks ago as Lopes was headed to the mailbox. They had a 45-minute to one-hour conversation, and she asked about him and his wife. Williams said she knew his wife was ill and that the Lopes' daughter would come by on weekends to help out, but Edward Lopes didn't talk much about it.
Williams said she was unaware of what was going on when she left her home around 1 p.m. Thursday. Police had blocked off Larsson Avenue, so she came around the other side on Brink Avenue. She learned what was happening from a television news reporter.
'I had a feeling for some reason' that it was the Lopes' house, she said, reasoning that he and his wife were most likely to be home during the time.
'Pretty sad, pretty sad,' she added.
Yvonne Blair, who lives on Southwest 23rd Street, said she heard sounds like bangs around 10:30 a.m., but assumed the sounds came from the roofers who were working on a house across the street. Police arrived several minutes later, and Blair heard them calling into the house with their megaphones.
Police told her to stay inside her house 'so that's what I did.' Her windows shook when the SWAT team used a flash grenade to enter the Lopes' house.
Blair said she moved into the neighborhood from Wood Village three months ago and is just getting to know the neighbors. She would only see Edward Lopes outside doing yard work, wearing his white overalls, and didn't know his wife.
Blair's daughter Tamber, a student at Walt Morey Middle School, said she and other students were unaware of what was going on when Principal Damian Reardon came into her classroom and closed all the blinds, a precaution during the school lock-in. After school, she stayed in the library for about an hour with other students because her mother wasn't able to pick her up from school.
'I moved up here to be in a quieter neighborhood,' Blair said. 'And it was quiet.'
The phone call, standoff
Before 11 a.m. Thursday, a man called 9-1-1. He reportedly told dispatchers, 'I shot my wife, and I am next.'
Members of the Multnomah County SWAT team, including police from Gresham, Troutdale, Fairview and the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office, as well as hostage negotiators, responded to the call and surrounded the house. Police blocked off the entrance to the house and neighborhood at Northeast 242nd Drive and Southwest 23rd Street and at Southwest 22nd Street.
SWAT team members positioned themselves at nearby homes on decks and in yards. Two helicopters from local news stations circled the area.
The four-hour standoff ended when the SWAT team, using flash bombs and a tactical robot, were able to enter the house just before 3 p.m., where they discovered the bodies.
Roads in the neighborhood reopened Thursday afternoon, but a section of Larsson Avenue was closed for hours afterward while police continued the investigation.