Ethel Mae Franken, 33, shot her husband,
Darrell, 37, and their three children before killing herself in
Aplington, Iowa, on January 18, 1983.
Police believe mother shot her family, self
The Bryan Times
January 18, 1983
Aplington, Iowa. (UPI) - Police searching for clues
today at the home of a family of five found shot to death said it
looks like the mother -a recent mental patient- killed her husband and
three children, then shot herself.
The bodies of Ethel Mae Franken, 33, her husband
and children were discovered Tuesday on the bedrooms of their home.
"The scene would be compatible with her having shot
her husband and the children", Butler County Medical Examiner Dr.
Garry Teigland said. "She was closest to the gun".
"The mother was lying in bed with the gun on the
bed", Teigland sais. "The father was lying within 8 to 10 feet of the
bed, or less".
"All of the bodies were in bedrooms, as I recall.
One of the children was in bed in one room, two others were in an
adjoining room on the floor".
The five bodies were found about noon Tuesday after
a friend tried to call on the family and the three children failed to
show up for classes at the elementary school across the street from
Local authorities were contacted and Police Chief,
Tom Lines, 22, said he discovered the bodies.
"We knew they were missing", Lines said. "I can't
say any more than that because (state investigators) told me not to
talk about it".
Teigland said the deaths could have occurred Monday
night since all of the victims were in night clothes and Franken went
to work at the John Deere plant in Waterloo Monday.
Plant officials said he had taken Tuesday off.
Neighbors described the Franken family -Darrell J.
Franken, 37, his wife, and their children, Troy, 13, Valerie, 11, and
Dustin, 7,- as "good hard-working people with nice kids".
Taigland said each had been shot with a
Dalene Tjabring, a close friend of the family, said
she went to the home Tuesday morning to take Mrs. Franken to Waterloo,
Iowa, for an appointment with a psychiatrist.
"We had been at a Christian Women's Club dinner
together on Monday and that's when she asked me if I would take her to
the doctor Tuesday," Ms. Tjabring said.
Acquaintances of the family said Mrs. Franken had
been under psychiatric care for several weeks and had been
hospitalized for several days at a time in the psychiatric ward at
Allen Memorial Hospital in Waterloo - the same hospital in wich
autopsies were scheduled for today.
"I went up to the house and no one answered", Ms.
Tjabring said. "I just didn't feel right".
Gerald Shanahan, Chief of the Iowa Division of
Criminal Investigation, said investigators and a lab crew were
gathering clues at the family's home.
A neighbor, who asked not to be identified, said
residents of Aplington, a town of 900 about 30 miles from Waterloo,
were "real shocked. It's hard to believe".
The shootings were the largest multiple homicide in
Iowa since six members of a Delmar family were killed a murder-suicide
in December 1980.