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COBB — A Middletown man killed his ex-wife and their 3-year-old child Tuesday before turning a shotgun on himself at his father’s home, where the family had gathered for a visit, Lake County sheriff’s officials said Wednesday.

Livienne Love Chote, 37, and her ex-husband Jedediah Daniel Chote, 35, were divorced but had been trying to mend their relationship, and the couple was living together with their daughter in Middletown, Sheriff Brian Martin said.

They were together inside the Whispering Pines home of Jedediah Chote’s father Tuesday, when Chote took his father’s shotgun and shot to death his ex-wife and young daughter before killing himself, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Martin said detectives do not yet know what provoked the violence.

“This is horribly tragic, and the community is probably looking for explanations for why this happened,” Martin said. “If we can figure out why, we will try. But I don’t know if we’ll get those answers.”

The Pine View Drive house is the longtime home of Benjamin Chote, 63, Jedidiah’s father. The young family visited him often, sometimes staying overnight at the emerald green home in the forested community about 7 miles north of Middletown in western Lake County, sheriff’s officials said.

Benjamin Chote was likely the last one to see the family alive Tuesday before he left to go shopping, and he told detectives he was not aware of any disagreement with the couple that day, Martin said.

He returned home to find his grandchild, her mother and his son dead in his home.

Detectives on Wednesday were still reviewing evidence collected at both the Whispering Pines home as well as the Chotes’ shared apartment in Middletown. They had plans to interview other people close to the couple to try to understand what may have occurred.

The Sheriff’s Office has no record of contacting Jedediah or Livienne Chote in any criminal context, such as domestic violence reports, according to Martin. Neither had been arrested in Lake County, he said.

Livienne and Jedediah Chote both had connections to the Harbin Hot Springs community. Martin said the couple lived at the resort in 2015 with their infant daughter when the Valley fire ignited in September of that year and burned a massively destructive path from Cobb Mountain to Middletown, destroying nearly 1,300 homes, including the Harbin property.

They had just married and had their daughter earlier that year.

Left homeless by the fire, the couple moved to Oregon for about one year, then returned to Lake County, according to the Sheriff’s Office. They divorced about one year ago, but were living together and trying to rebuild their relationship, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Attempts to locate members of Livienne Chote’s family were unsuccessful Wednesday.

Jedediah Chote had been working at Beaver Creek Winery in Middletown since late February, according to vineyard owner, Martin Pohl, 46. Pohl said he knew Jedediah Chote as a reliable employee. He was aware Chote was trying to reconcile with his ex-wife but nothing had foretold such violence. He saw Jedediah last Friday at work, and he knew the couple had just celebrated their daughter’s third birthday one week ago.

“He was a great worker with an open heart,” Pohl said.

Even though Livienne and Jedediah Chote lived just a 25-minute drive away at an apartment in Middletown, the couple, according to the Sheriff’s Office, often stayed overnight with Benjamin Chote in Whispering Pines, a small, wooded enclave on Cobb Mountain’s eastern flank bordering Highway 175. They had stayed over Monday night, and perhaps longer, Martin said.

Benjamin Chote left his family at some point earlier Tuesday to go shopping, and he returned home abut 5:40 p.m., found the bodies and called 911, according to Martin.

Martin said additional details about what was found inside the home, including the gunshot injuries suffered by each person, would be released following autopsies. He had not yet learned from investigators when those would take place.

Lake County’s major crimes investigative team was at the home most of the night and they searched both the house and the couple’s apartment. Detectives interviewed neighbors, but the homes are far apart in the rural community and no one had observed anything significant, Martin said.

Houses in Whispering Pines are few and far between on narrow roads winding through forest extensively scarred by the Valley fire.

Wednesday morning, the small single-story emerald green house on Pine View Drive was quiet and showed no obvious signs that sheriff’s investigators had been there the day before. A tan dog sought shade under a small wooden balcony leading up to the home’s front door.

A neighbor who was at the property Wednesday said he was a friend of Benjamin Chote, who had lived there for decades and was a quiet man. The neighbor, who declined to give his name, said he went to the property Wednesday to make sure his friend’s dogs had water after learning what had occurred.

An inflatable kiddie pool sat in the front yard with a pair of child-size black and pink shoes and a towel beside it. A doll and other playthings were scattered around the yard.

You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 707-521-5220 or julie.johnson@pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Nashelly Chavez at 707-521-5203 or nashelly.chavez@pressdemocrat.com.

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