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Gunman Takes Own Life After Killing His Estranged Wife

April 14, 1990

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) _ A man distraught over the breakup of his marriage wounded two men, killed his estranged wife and held two children hostage overnight, then killed himself Friday to end a 17-hour standoff, police said.

The bodies of Mike Purcell, 38, of Collinsville, Va., and Jeannie Purcell, 33, of Lexington, were found in separate bedrooms of Mrs. Purcell’s sister’s house about 4 p.m. EDT, said Police Chief Larry Walsh.

Police decided to storm the house after a breakdown in negotiations, which began early Friday.

″He was getting worse instead of better. He wanted us to kill him,″ Walsh said. ″We had no alternative but to move on him.″

Walsh said Purcell appeared to have killed himself shortly after police began an assault with tear gas and percussion grenades. But Mrs. Purcell apparently had been dead since 11 p.m. Thursday, he said.

Walsh said Purcell had many mood swings during the negotiations but always seemed to be in control.

″He played mind games. He would talk in circles,″ the chief said.

Police had been patient with Purcell because they were concerned about the lives of Mrs. Purcell, unaware she was already dead, and officers at the scene, Walsh said. The children - Troy Jamison, 4, and Brittany Jamison, 1 - had been held hostage overnight and released about 10 a.m. Friday.

Troy is the son of Mark Jamison and Brittany is the daughter of Liz Jamison, Mrs. Purcell’s sister. They all lived in the house.

Purcell stayed out of the sight of police snipers. ″He was smart. He knew what he was doing,″ Walsh said.

Police said the incident began about 10 p.m. Thursday when Purcell, armed with a 9mm pistol, allegedly shot Wayne Deaton, who had arrived to pick up Mrs. Purcell for a date, and Mark Jamison, Mrs. Purcell’s brother. Both remained hospitalized Friday, Deaton in critical condition and Jamison in serious condition, hospital officials said.

″I saw him with the gun,″ Liz Jamison said of Purcell. ″He shot at me and made my sister go upstairs. That’s when I ran out the back door to the neighbor’s house and called the police.″

Ms. Jamison said her sister and Purcell had been married three years.

On Jan. 19 and again on Feb. 1, a Fayette District Court ordered Purcell to stay away from his wife because of domestic violence. But he violated both protection orders and was held in contempt of court each time, said Police Lt. Drexel Neal.

During the standoff, Purcell became upset when television reports touched on that aspect and demanded an interview with a reporter to give his side of the story. Deborah Moore of WVLK-FM said Purcell told her by telephone that he had been distraught ever since his wife left him without warning in October.

Update hourly