Police investigating a murder-suicide in Wrangell

Posted: Tuesday, February 25, 2003

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) -- The bodies of a Wrangell High School faculty member, his estranged girlfriend and two other women were found shot to death in a home early Monday in what police say is an apparent murder-suicide.

Sheryl Roberta Nelson, 43, was found dead in her home along with her daughter, Shandelle Marie Nelson, 18, and niece Adrienne Shalon Nore, 23, all of Wrangell, police said.

Also found dead in the home was William Gablehouse, 48, the estranged boyfriend of Sheryl Nelson. He was a teacher and former assistant basketball coach at Wrangell High School.

Police Chief Tom Clemons would not release details of the shooting, but said police are continuing their investigation.

''Obviously, the community is stunned by the events,'' said Clemons. ''Everybody knows everybody in town.''

Police were called to Nelson's home on Reid Street at about 3:55 a.m. after someone reported hearing gunfire, police said.

Wrangell, about 150 miles south of Juneau, has about 2,100 residents. It has been more than two years since Wrangell had a murder, according to Clemons.

The incident has caused reverberations through the community, with grief counselors working with students, family members of the victims and with the police officers and firefighters who responded, Clemons said.

Wrangell High School, which was supposed to be closed due to a teacher in-service day, was open on Monday to students, said principal Monty Buness. School counselors as well as Wrangell Community Services counselors were on hand, Buness said. He would not say how many students came to the school on Monday.

''I would say a number of them have come to the school to be with each other,'' Buness said. ''We're just kind of working with each other and trying to sort through things ourselves.''

Alaska State Troopers were expected to fly to Wrangell to take the four bodies back to Anchorage for an autopsy, said trooper spokesman Greg Wilkinson. Autopsies are scheduled for Tuesday, Wilkinson said.

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