MURPHYS — Grief counselors were scheduled to be on hand Monday at a Northern California high school attended by teenage siblings who were shot and killed by their father before he took his own life, authorities said.
Investigators in Calaveras County also were looking into a motive behind Saturday's double murder-suicide in the mountain community of Murphys, Sheriff's Sgt. Chris Hewitt said. Deputies found Alex Marshall, 17, and his younger sister, Macaila, 14, dead of gunshot wounds. Both attended Bret Harte Union High School in the nearby town of Angels Camp.
The teens' friends told authorities they last had contact with the two Thursday, Hewitt said.
"We do believe that the children were sleeping at the time they were shot," he told The Associated Press on Monday.
The siblings were shot in the head by their father, 54-year-old Phillip Marshall, with a semiautomatic handgun, Hewitt said. Friends of the teens discovered Phillip Marshall lying on the floor at his home in a pool of blood Saturday in an apparent suicide, Hewitt said. The family dog also was shot to death.
Murphys is about 80 miles southeast of Sacramento, just outside the Stanislaus National Forest.
Calaveras County Supervisor Merita Callaway told the Record of Stockton (http://bit.ly/14MDVqY) on Sunday that she and Phillip Marshall used to have coffee together, and that he appeared to be a loving father.
Marshall had coached his son's Little League team, Callaway added, saying she was still in shock but had not yet been able to cry about the killings.
"I can't, because I don't understand it," Callaway said. "My chest hurts. I have a headache."
Sean Marshall, the teens' mother and Phillip Marshall's estranged wife, was traveling in Turkey at the time of the shootings, Callaway said. The sheriff's department notified her and she was expected back by late Sunday or early Monday, Hewitt said.
In 2008, Phillip Marshall was arrested for investigation of battery, disturbing the peace and making harassing phone calls after he allegedly slapped his wife's sister in the face in an argument over seeing his daughter. But prosecutors decided not to file charges and he was released, Hewitt said.
Meanwhile, Alex Marshall's high school football teammates gathered at coach Scott Edwards' home Sunday to grieve for their friend.
"He was just so outgoing and lighthearted and just fun to be around," Edwards said. "This is going to be hard on our community."
A candlelight vigil for the teens is scheduled for Wednesday night at their school.