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Domestic Violence Claims Six Lives In Colorado

November 27, 1985

DENVER (AP) _ Domestic violence caused the deaths of six people in two episodes in two days near Denver’s outskirts, authorities said Tuesday.

In Castle Rock, 25 miles south of Denver, an unemployed man murdered his wife and two sleeping children, then killed himself.

About the time police were finding those bodies Monday, ″a lover’s quarrel″ 50 miles to the north in Federal Heights exploded into violence, and two men were shot to death. A suspect was in custody Tuesday.

The death of the Lannie Phillips family in Castle Rock shocked the community of 6,500, said Police Chief Rod Wright, who added that there had not been a homicide in the town in nearly 40 years.

The killings may have been brought on by tensions caused by the husband being unemployed and his wife working two jobs to support the family, officials said.

Phillips, 36, apparently murdered his wife Janie, 31, their son Lannie Jr., 13, and daughter Tammy, 10, early Saturday with a rifle, police said.

He wrote a suicide note, left it at the home, then drove to Larkspur 10 miles south of Castle Rock and shot himself.

Phillips was found dead in his truck, a 30.06-caliber rifle at his side, two hours after the bodies of his wife and children were discovered, Wright said.

″We’re just trying to piece this all together,″ said Wright. He refused to release the contents of the suicide note.

Neighbors described the Phillipses as ″private people who kept to themselves, and at times seemed like a troubled family.″ The Phillipses had lived at the home about a year.

In the Federal Heights case, John Gripp, 34, was killed, as was another man who police have only identified as a friend of Gripp’s.

Douglas Lee Crawford, 29, of Cincinnati, was charged Tuesday with two counts of first-degree murder and with failure to leave premises. He was being held without bond in the county jail in Brighton until his next court appearance Dec. 2.

Police say Crawford went to the home of his former girlfriend, Cheryl Lenig, 21, on Monday, had a quarrel and started shooting. Gripp, who was Ms. Lenig’s uncle, and the other man were killed.

Crawford fled the home, holed up in a nearby garage and had to be teargassed three times before he would surrender, police said.

Donald Allen, Adams County Sheriff’s chief investigator, said Tuesday that Lenig and Crawford had been going together ″for some time.″

Ms. Lenig told police the two victims were in the house with her when the telephone rang. She said she answered but no one said anything in response so she hung up.

Several minutes later, Crawford knocked on her front door, she let him in, and an argument began, Ms. Lenig told police. She said Crawford took a handgun and shot one of the victims in the head.

The second man reached for a telephone, and Crawford shot him in the head, too, she told police.

A third shot was fired, and Ms. Lenig ran into a bathroom. The assailant then fled.

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