The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

November 10, 2012

Police 'baffled' in hunt for murder-suicide motive

By Richard Whitby
The Daily Star

---- — Police confirmed Friday that deaths of two people in the Village of Franklin early Wednesday were a murder-suicide.

A preliminary autopsy showed that Willis Brown shot his wife, Wendy, with a 9mm rifle and then turned the rifle on himself, Delaware County Undersheriff Craig DuMond said.

DuMond said Willis Brown, 58 and an assistant professor of applied sciences and building technologies at SUNY Delhi, called 911 about 6:40 a.m. Wednesday, told a dispatcher that he had just killed his wife and said he was going to kill himself.

A local, off-duty deputy was sent to the scene, according to a press release from the sheriff’s office. DuMond said that the deputy arrived within five minutes, and that Willis Brown was dead by then.

“She found two deceased bodies and immediately relayed that information to us and established a crime scene,” he said.

The undersheriff declined to say where in the house the deputy found the bodies.

It also remained unclear when Wendy Brown, a financial adviser who worked in Oneonta, had been slain.

“We’re still awaiting the final autopsy report,” DuMond said. “That’ll probably have that information.”

The full autopsy report from Lourdes Hospital in Binghamton may not be filed for two or more weeks, he said.

Willis Brown gave no hint about why he killed his 58-year-old wife, either in the 911 call or in any other manner, DuMond said.

“We’re completely baffled by it,” he said. “We do not have any motive whatsoever.”

The undersheriff said no note had been found. Other than the 911 call, the only communication from Willis Brown that morning was a cryptic message posted at 6:34 a.m. Wednesday on the “What’s New” section of a canoeing and camping website he administered. It read, “I’ am Sorry Good by’’ and contained a link to

“We’ll track down any developments that might present themselves, but as of right now, it’s a mystery as to what might have motivated Mr. Brown,” DuMond said.

Asked about the murder weapon, he agreed that a 9mm rifle was unusual, but said that it was long rifle, not an assault weapon, some of which use 9mm ammunition — as do many handguns. Willis Brown was an outsdoorsman in addition to being a college professor, so it wasn’t unusual that he would have a rifle, DuMond said.

The sheriff’s Criminal Investigation Division carried out the investigation, assisted by the Forensic Identification Unit from Troop C of the New York State Police based in Sidney.