Deaths of Seven Puzzle Neighbors

Tuesday, September 5th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

AVA, Ohio (AP) — A family of seven found dead in their fire-gutted home, victims of an apparent murder-suicide, had shown no signs of violence although the parents were discussing divorce, neighbors and officials said.

Noble County Sheriff Landon T. Smith wouldn't say who he believes was responsible for the deaths, although nobody outside the family is considered a suspect.

Smith said a fire accelerant was found. ``This fire was definitely set,'' he said.

The bodies of Richard Pangle, 37, his wife Sheryl, 29, and their five children were found after a blaze destroyed their trailer around 3 a.m. Monday.

Preliminary autopsy reports showed the two youngest children, 5-year-old twins Trina and Trinda, died of single gunshot wounds, Smith said.

Four guns and spent shells were found in the living room near the bodies of the parents and their eldest daughter, Kayla, 12. The bodies of the twins and their brothers Brett, 10, and Derek, 7, were found in the two bedrooms.

A neighbor in a camper about 20 feet from the trailer, at the end of a gravel road in the Appalachian foothills of eastern Ohio, saw the fire and ran to a nearby home to call for help, Smith said.

Deputies had never received complaints of domestic violence involving the Pangles, Smith said. He added that, although the couple was discussing a divorce, he saw them driving together Sunday during a celebration in Ava, about 75 miles east of Columbus.

``I've known the Pangle family forever,'' Smith said.

Lloyd Anderson, Sheryl Pangle's brother, said Richard Pangle doted on his children and recently bought them new bicycles. Those bikes, along with several toys, were scattered around the shell of the home Monday.

``Those were Richie's gardens,'' Anderson said, pointing to the neat rows of corn, pumpkins, flowers and watermelon growing near the trailer. ``He figured with five kids, he'd better have a couple of gardens and the kids helped him can some of the vegetables.''

Neighbor Cheryl Morgareidge said she saw Richard Pangle as recently as Friday at a high school football game.

``It's a small town and a small county,'' she said. ``Everybody knows everybody else, which makes it that much harder when something like this happens.''