Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

September 23, 2013

Investigators suspect 'murder/suicide' in deaths of five in Rice

By Bob Belcher and Janet Jacobs
Corsicana Daily Sun

Corsicana — Navarro County Sheriff Elmer Tanner said Monday his agency is investigating the deaths of five people found Sunday night in their rural Rice home as a “homicide/suicide.”

Deputies were called to a home on NWCR 0149 about 7 p.m. Sunday after a 9-1-1 call placed by the father of one of the victims reported the deaths.

Tanner identified the victims as Israel Chairez Alvarez, 33; his wife, Guadalupe Ronquillo-Ovalle, 33; and their three children, ages 10, 8 and 4.

Tanner said all five of the victims suffered gunshot wounds to the upper torso. He said deputies had recovered a .22 caliber semi-automatic long rifle at the scene.

The victims’ bodies have been transported to American Forensics in Dallas for autopsies to determine the cause of death.

Tanner would not speculate on the time of death, saying only that the children did not attend school on Friday. Tanner said that Alvarez’s father had come to the residence Sunday after not being able to reach his son for several days.

Neighbors of the Alvarez and Ronquillo-Ovalles expressed shock and sorrow Monday morning, after learning of the supposed murder-suicide of the entire family.

A woman who called herself a friend of Lupe’s said the entire community is in tears.

“Muy triste,” she said, “many tears.”

“Our community prayed for the family,” she said. “Our community cries.”

She asked that everyone pray for one another in the midst of this tragedy.

Another neighbor, who also said she didn’t want to be identified, said the family moved into this rural area about nine years ago. They were a good family, she said. Very solid, and good neighbors.

The last day that the children were seen was Thursday, when they went to school at Rice Intermediate and elementary. On Monday morning, the fifth-graders at Rice Intermediate already knew that one of their friends was dead.

The district issued a statement Monday afternoon.

“Rice Independent School District would like to express its heartfelt condolences to the family and those affected by last night’s tragedy,” Superintendent Judith Pritchett stated. “The emotional well-being of our students and faculty is our utmost priority at this time. We have solicited additional resources and counselors to help us through this grieving process. We will continue to offer these services as long as our students and teachers need them.”

Tanner said his agency has responded to the home in the 700 block of NWCR 0149 four times in the past, including a family violence call on Sept. 11 of this year after an altercation between Alvarez and his wife. Alvarez spent two days in jail and was released after paying fines.

The sheriff said the investigation is continuing.

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