Suspect in 3 NC killings turns gun on self

Published: Friday, January 2, 2009 at 8:40 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 2, 2009 at 8:40 a.m.

CANDLER, N.C. -- A police standoff with a man suspected of killing three people and kidnapping two of his children in western North Carolina ended Friday when the man turned a gun on himself, authorities said.

The two children were safe in police custody and were being taken to their home, Buncombe County Sheriff's Office spokesman Lt. Ross Dillingham said.

Richard D. Heatwole, 45, is suspected of killing his ex-wife and two other people who have not been identified.

Dillingham said Heatwole fled Buncombe County with the children to a cousin's house near Taylorsville in Alexander County, where officers found him. The spokesman said Heatwole committed suicide at the cousin's house. Taylorsville is about 90 miles northeast of Candler, which is near Asheville.

An Amber Alert was issued Thursday for Hayes Heatwole, 6, and Haley Heatwole, 10, after the three people were found dead.

One victim at the slaying scene was identified as Angela Heatwole, 49. Dillingham said the slayings in Candler involved two houses. Angela Heatwole and another person were found in one home. The third victim, a woman, was found in a nearby house. Authorities haven't said how the three were killed.

Richard Heatwole was on probation for a Florida drug charge, Dillingham said.

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