Charles, 69, and Kate, 70, each suffered two gunshot wounds to the chest from a 9mm semi-automatic hand gun in what Belmont County Sheriff Fred Thompson calls an execution style double homicide. A business associate found the bodies in the Murray home at 67040 Willow Grove Road, 1.5 miles southeast of St. Clairsville, at 6 p.m. on Dec. 23, 1986. County Coroner Dr. Thomas Ring estimated the time of death to be shortly after midnight.
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At the time of the crime, police theorized the Murrays knew and trusted their killer. The home’s elaborate security system was turned off when investigators arrived at the scene and there were no signs of a forced entry.
Murray operated a home-based firearms and ammunition business catering to local hunters and sport shooters. Neighborhood rumors hinted that Murray kept large amounts of money on the premises.
Initial reports claimed Murray also worked as a bail bondsman providing cash money for people wanting to be released from police custody. Then-sheriff Tom McCort later said the bail bondsman report was not true. Murray and his brother had formerly co-owned and operated a 25th St. bar in Bellaire.
Nobody reported hearing gunshots but area residents told police that shots were not unusual in the rural setting during hunting season.
McCort said his department had “stacks and stacks”, possibly hundreds, of names of persons to question.
He appealed to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation for assistance in the case. McCort wanted more BCII agents assigned but state budget cutbacks prohibited additional help.
McCort said robbery appeared to be a motive for the slayings. The house was not ransacked but one of Murray’s front trouser pocket had been torn off. The assailant apparently failed to check the victim’s rear pockets where police found more than $1,000 in cash.
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