Alabama man commits suicide after killing wife, 2 daughters

Tragedy struck the town of Riverside, Alabama on Sunday when a 54-year-old man killed his wife and two daughters before turning the gun on himself in front of police, as local CBS affiliate WTVY reports.

According to the outlet, it was just after 9:45 a.m. when officers from the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office, Pell City Police, and Riverside Police responded to a residential address on Depot Street on reports of a suicidal man.

Upon their arrival, police spotted a man holding a handgun, and when officers went into the home to check on other members of the family, he fatally shot himself.

The deceased individual was later identified as William (Billy) Huntoon Vance, and sadly, officers also discovered the bodies of his wife, Florence (Flo) Vance, and their daughters, Samantha, 16, and Cara, 13, all of whom also died of gunshot wounds, according to AL.com.

Authorities have since revealed that Mr. Vance left a lengthy written note in advance of his death, and while specific details of the communication have not been made public, Riverside Mayor Rusty Jessup suggested that issues with mental health and financial difficulties may have been to blame.

Members of the community, which is home to several thousand residents, are reportedly in shock over the deaths, with Jessup saying, “This is so out of character,” and that he had not been previously aware of any trouble within the family headed by Billy and Flo, both of whom were deaf.

Jessup added that the Vance family was very community-oriented, often attending local events and school functions, and he described Samantha and Cara as “beautiful.”

“They were great. They were just what you would want kids to be. They had parents who loved each other. They were raised good, and they were good students,” noted the mayor.

Though the full truth of what drove Mr. Vance to an act of such desperation may never be known, the words of Flo’s friend Robin Wohlford Pass amid news of the family’s deaths are well taken. “Mental health is not to be ignored. We must destigmatize getting therapy. Counseling shouldn’t be a taboo topic. …the most honorable thing to do is ask for and accept help.”