Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Autopsy results confirm murder-suicide theory

Police say former mayor was shooter

Express Staff Writer

Preliminary autopsy results confirm earlier suspicions that former Bellevue Mayor Jon Anderson and his ex-wife, Linda Vaughan, were the victims last week of a murder-suicide perpetrated by Anderson.

"The autopsy made it clear that he was the person that committed the act and she was the victim," Blaine County Coroner Russell Mikel said Monday. "The indication is that it was a murder-suicide."

Mikel said both Anderson, 55, and Vaughan, 58, died from gunshot wounds to the head.

The autopsy was conducted at the Ada County Coroner's Office after the bodies of Anderson and Vaughan were found on the morning of Feb. 7 at their home at 320 Walnut St. in Bellevue. Though divorced earlier, Anderson and Vaughan were living together. Anderson was the primary caregiver for Vaughan, who was confined to a wheelchair and suffered from multiple sclerosis.

The Hailey Police Department, which is contracted to provide police services for the city of Bellevue, has nearly completed its investigation and has already forwarded information to the Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney's Office for a determination.

"I am waiting for additional reports from the Idaho State Police crime lab to make a final determination of the murder-suicide theory," Prosecuting Attorney Jim Thomas said Tuesday. "But at this time, there does not appear to be evidence to refute the theory."

Hailey Police Chief Jeff Gunter said his department's investigation has found nothing to indicate anything other than murder-suicide with Anderson as the perpetrator.

"I'm confident that the rest of the reports are going to confirm what we found," Gunter said.

The police chief said the investigation has nonetheless been unable to establish whether Vaughan was willingly killed.

"We have no proof that she was either a willing participant or not," he said.

At the request of the Vaughan family, Gunter said, he was not going to release the contents of a note, presumably written by Anderson and found near the two bodies, but added that the note "really adds nothing as to why this happened."

Anderson was on probation at the time of his death for a felony DUI conviction. He pleaded guilty to the crime in July and was sentenced by 5th District Court Judge Robert J. Elgee in August.

Elgee gave Anderson the minimum punishment of 30 days in jail, but suspended execution of the sentence pending the outcome of an appeal filed by Anderson's attorney, Douglas Nelson.

Anderson was also given a suspended five-year prison sentence, placed on probation for three years, fined $1,500, had his driver's license suspended for one year and was ordered to continue attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings for at least eight months.

At sentencing, Anderson testified that he had "finally found the strength to free myself of alcohol" and that he had not been drinking since his DUI arrest in Bellevue on Sept. 4, 2010. He was charged with a felony because of prior misdemeanor DUI convictions in Lincoln County in 2010 and in Blaine County in 2005.

Gunter said there was no evidence of alcohol use at the crime scene where Anderson and Vaughan's bodies were found.

"We have no indication that alcohol was involved, but we're waiting for the lab reports to see if that was a factor," he said.

Terry Smith:

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