Maumelle closes case on three deaths as double-murder suicide | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Maumelle closes case on three deaths as double-murder suicide

Posted By on Wed, Feb 25, 2015 at 10:53 AM

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The Maumelle police issued a brief report today closing the investigation of three people found shot to death in a burning home in Maumelle Friday night. In full:

Preliminary Autopsy Reports confirm Double Murder/Suicide occurred at 151 Auriel Circle in Maumelle

2/25/15

The Maumelle Police Department has received the preliminary autopsy findings from the Arkansas State Crime Lab. The Crime Lab has found that Mr. Wilbanks committed suicide in this case. The Maumelle Police Department is not looking for suspects in the double murder and now considers this case closed.

James Wilbanks, 41, a UALR business faculty member; his wife, Tatiana, or Tanya, 27, and his sister Elizabeth Wilbanks, 31, were found with fatal gunshot wounds when Maumelle firefighters responded to and extinguished a small fire found in the bedroom, apparently from a mattress being set on fire. The fire later reignited during the night and heavily damaged the house.

The final investigative file isn't available yet, but Chief Sam Williams said they were confident of the finding based on where key evidence was found and other factors. A 9-millimeter Glock and a lighter was found near Wilbanks, whose body was found in the foyer. His wife's body was found near the front door. His sister, who had physical disabilities, was found in a bedroom. Two dogs were also shot. One was in the living room and one in the master bedroom. Williams said investigators weren't sure of the order of shooting.

Each victim had a gunshot wound to the head. Williams said it was possible additional rounds were fired and missed because of fire damage, but he said it appeared that each victim had died from a single gunshot.

Investigators have found nothing to explain the shootings. Friends and family were "little and no help," Williams said. An acquaintance had told the Times earlier of friends who'd seen the family Friday evening and reported nothing untoward.

A check of criminal and police records found only one incident related to the family. A neighbor told Maumelle police that Wilbanks had complained about a barking dog and said he'd shoot the dog if the barking didn't stop. No charges arose from that complaint.

The family otherwise was a "standard story," Williams said. "There were no real problems to speak of."

Postings on Facebook seem to indicate the Wilbanks were married in 2013. She was listed as working with him on presentation of an academic research paper on a business topic. Her family said she loved animals and has asked that memorials be made to the Topeka Zoo, where she once worked, in the name of Tanya Drew, her maiden name.

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