Four people found shot in Wrangell

Police discover bodies in downtown home

Posted: Monday, February 24, 2003

Police this afternoon released the names of four people found shot to death in a downtown Wrangell home early today. Police said they are investigating the shootings - the deadliest in Southeast in 20 years - as a murder-suicide case.

The bodies of William Paul Gablehouse, 48, Sheryl Roberta Nelson, 43, Shandelle Marie Nelson and Adrienne Shalon Nore, 18, were discovered around 3:55 a.m. at Sheryl Nelson's home at 407 Reid St. in downtown Wrangell. The town of 2,400 people is about 155 miles south of Juneau and 89 miles northwest of Ketchikan.

Three of the bodies were found in the threshold of the home's living room and the dining room, police said. One was found in the bathroom.

Gablehouse was the estranged boyfriend of Sheryl Nelson, mother of Shandelle Nelson, police said. Nore was Sheryl Nelson's niece.

Wrangell Police Chief Tom Clemons said Gablehouse did not live in the home. He said it is not clear whether Nore was living in the house at the time of the shooting or just staying the night.

Gablehouse was a faculty member at Wrangell High School and the former assistant basketball coach, The Associated Press reported. Nore was a senior at the high school.

Acting Wrangell School District Superintendent Monty Buness was unavailable for comment by the Empire's deadline.

Clemons declined to comment on possible motives for the crime until the medical examiners examined the bodies.

Alaska State Troopers were expected to fly to Wrangell today to take bodies to Anchorage for autopsies on Tuesday, said trooper spokesman Greg Wilkinson.

Clemons said the examiner's report is expected sometime in the next few days.

He also declined to comment on whether a weapon was found in the residence.

"We have collected lots of evidence and while the investigation is ongoing, we won't release what individual pieces of that evidence are," said Clemons. "We will release as much as we can as this investigation continues."

According to a statement broadcast on KSTK radio in Wrangell, grief counselors and church clergy assembled at Wrangell High School to offer support to community members. The school was supposed to be closed to students due to teacher training.

According to Juneau District Attorney Rick Svobodny, the shooting is the deadliest since the Investor murders in 1982.

In that case, eight people were killed on board the fishing boat Investor at or near the Craig harbor on Prince of Wales Island. The boat was taken to a nearby cove and set on fire.

Bellingham, Wash., fisherman John Kenneth Peel was tried twice for the killings. The first trial, in Ketchikan, ended in a hung jury. The second trial, in 1988 in Juneau, resulted in acquittal.

• Melanie Plenda can be reached

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