Essex police investigating murder-suicide - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Essex police investigating murder-suicide

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Ludwig "Sonny" Schumacher Ludwig "Sonny" Schumacher
Gunnar Schumacher Gunnar Schumacher
ESSEX, Vt. -

Police are investigating a murder-suicide involving a father and his teenage son.

Police say the call came in just before 2 p.m. Wednesday. And within the hour, an Essex apartment was crawling with police.

The commotion caught Neilan Salerno's eye. The Essex High School junior works just across the street at a local restaurant.

"I've never seen state troopers back here and especially not the big truck. I saw a lot of people walking around, cops walking around. You don't ever see that back here so I was curious," said Salerno.

The incident was initially reported to police as a suicide, but when investigators went inside, the details grew even more grim with the discovery of a second body.

"Responding officers found a middle-aged male and a teenage male deceased inside the apartment," Essex Police Chief Brad LaRose said.

Police have now identified the dead as Ludwig "Sonny" Schumacher, 49, and his son, Gunnar, 14. Investigators say Sonny killed his son, and then hanged himself. A friend discovered the bodies and called police.

"I think I know the family actually. Not personally, but I've seen them walking around. It's pretty surprising to see. They seemed like a pretty normal family," said Salerno.

Sonny Schumacher was a former lieutenant colonel with the Vermont Air National Guard, a career that started in 1989. He was an F-16 pilot who rose through the ranks to become the director of operations for military support. He left the guard in 2011.

Police say Sonny was going through a divorce and his son, Gunnar, was living with him at least part time. Gunnar was a student at Essex High School.

"School officials have been informed of the incident and measures will be in place to respond to students and staff's needs tomorrow and in the days to come," said Chief LaRose.

Police estimate the murder-suicide likely happened more than 24 hours ago. But they're not saying what prompted the violence.

Police say in August, Schumacher's wife filed for an abuse prevention order. But it did not involve Gunnar. Police say they haven't received any reports of domestic assault or arrests in Schumacher's past. Autopsies are scheduled for Thursday morning.

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