PSU couple found dead in murder-suicide

PSU couple found dead in murder-suicide

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by Justin Burton & Randy Neves, KGW news staff

Bio | Email | Follow: @KGWNews

kgw.com

Posted on September 12, 2010 at 6:22 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 14 at 7:18 AM

MANZANITA, Ore. -- A medical examiner on Monday confirmed two bodies found in a Manzanita home over the weekend were those of a couple who worked for Portland State University who died in a murder-suicide.

State Medical Examiner Dr. Cliff Nelson identified the two Monday as Astrid Schlaps and Richard Hunter.

The couple both died of gunshots wounds to the head, the result of a murder/suicide in which Hunter shot Schlaps, Nelson said.

Friends had said Schlaps was suffering from cancer and had been ill for some time, but that could not be confirmed due to the decomposition of the body, Nelson said.

"The whole town can't understand," said Sandy Strum of Manzanita.  "They're curious as to what happened."

The couple hadn't shown up at their photography store in town for several days and didn't have their store open during the prime Labor Day shopping weekend.

Chief Erik Harth said on Saturday that the deaths appear to be suspicious.  The bodies were found in the home on Friday, after officers received word from a family member that one of the people hadn't been at work.

Hunter is a professor at Portland State University, and Schlaps also works with PSU and is a certified counselor.  They own a home in the Laurelhurst neighborhood of Northeast Portland.  A neighbor said they were rarely seen there, since they spent a lot of time at their other home in Manzanita.

"Richard Hunter and Astrid Schlaps are valued colleagues and gifted teachers who have touched the lives of countless students over nearly two decades. We are shocked and saddened by news in the media and await further information from the police,” Kristi Nelson, the Dean of PSU’s School of Social Work, said Monday.

The couple were known for the their sweet personalities and their uplifting messages displayed on a chalkboard outside the store.

"It was an overdue retirement and they were finally going to fulfill a dream to move (to the coast) and do something else so she was pretty excited," friend Kathy Knight said.

The Tillamook Co. Sheriff's Office, Tillamook Co. District Attorney's Office, and the Oregon State Police are assisting in the investigation.

KGW's Cheryl Calm contributed to this report

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