EVANSBURG, Pa. (AP) _ A mother and her two daughters were shot and killed Sunday in a church parking lot after Palm Sunday services, and authorities charged the woman’s estranged husband with murder.
The shootings occurred about 12:25 p.m. as Linda Moser, 35, of Eaglesville and her daughters, 10-year-old Joanne and 14-year-old Donna, left St. James Episcopal Church in this Philadelphia suburb, said police.
Leon Moser, 42, of Collegeville, who was already facing a charge of wife abuse, was arraigned Sunday night on three counts of murder, Lower Providence Township Police Chief Thomas P. Rogers said. He was ordered held without bail at Montgomery County Prison until a preliminary hearing April 9.
Moser had attended the 10:45 a.m. service alone but apparently knew his wife and daughters also would be at the church, Rogers said. He had accompanied Joanne to the altar rail for communion less than an hour before the killings, police said.
Witnesses told police that Moser, armed with a hunting rifle, first shot his wife, hitting her in the back, said Rogers.
According to police, Moser then shot the children in the head, hitting Joanne as she sat in the back seat of a car he apparently had driven to church and striking Donna several feet away.
Mrs. Moser and Joanne were pronounced dead at the scene; Donna died en route to Suburban Hospital in Norristown, hospital spokeswoman Mary Jackson said.
Although Mrs. Moser was hit in the back, nothing indicated she had been trying to flee from her husband, Rogers said, adding that about 20 people were in the area during the shootings.
Police found Moser lying uninjured on the parking lot, and witnesses said he apparently had tried to shoot himself, Rogers said. Up to four shots were fired from the rifle, he said.
Moser was scheduled to appear in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court on April 9 to face charge of assaulting his wife five months ago, Rogers said.
″There has been a series of domestic differences between the two. ... He had made various threats,″ Rogers said.
Rogers said the couple had been separted, but Mrs. Moser’s father, William Shramm of Cornwells Heights, said the divorce had been finalized.
″He turned violent after she left him,″ Shramm said. ″He’d attacked her two, three times before.″
Shramm said his daughter, who was married to Moser for 15 years, had endured repeated threats in the last 11/2 years and had received a restraining order for protection.
″Why didn’t they lock him up before this? Now he’s killed her and my granddaughters,″ he said
Shramm added, however, that Moser had never threatened to harm his children, who were to spend the day with him. ″The children loved him. He never done nothing to the children.″
The Rev. Melford ″Bud″ Holland, the church’s pastor, said about 100 worshipers attended a service for the victims Sunday evening.
In addition to the murder charges, Moser also faces three counts of voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment of another person and possessing an instrument of crime.