Retired Buchholz teacher charged with killing wife
Published: Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 9:40 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 9:40 p.m.
A 71-year-old retired Gainesville high school teacher who recently wrote letters to The Gainesville Sun about conspiracy theories and gun control has been charged with homicide in Clay County, N.C., for shooting and killing his wife late last month.
Matthew Andrew Coleman, a former drafting teacher at Buchholz High School, is accused of shooting 65-year-old Sandra Stewart Coleman in their North Carolina vacation home during the early afternoon on April 22.
Nothing of what they knew of the Colemans prepared their Gainesville neighbors in the 5300 block of Northwest 53rd Avenue for what they learned last week.
William Boe said the Colemans came to his door just a couple weeks ago to say they were headed north for the spring, as they had done for many years.
"Sandy was happy, smiling," Boe said. "They were always excited before heading up there."
Clay County authorities were dispatched to the couple's springtime home at around 1:30 p.m. after a neighbor called 911 to report that Matthew Coleman came to their home declaring he'd shot his wife.
Sandra Coleman's body was found lying on the kitchen floor. She'd been shot once in the chest, with a .38-caliber revolver, said Clay County Sheriff's Capt. Melvin Cantrell. Authorities later discovered a revolver of the same caliber in the perimeter of the home.
Matthew Coleman was still at the neighbor's home when the police arrived. He told authorities he did not remember what happened and immediately asked for a lawyer, Cantrell said. Coleman has since remained silent toward authorities and is now being a held on a $250,000 bond, reduced last Thursday from an original $5 million dollar bond.
Coleman's North Carolina defense attorney who filed the bond reduction motion, Jim Parker, could not be reached for comment.
In Gainesville, the news of Sandy Coleman's slaying and Matt Coleman's arrest came as a shock to neighbors.
Boe and the Colemans have been neighbors since 1985 and regularly looked after each other's homes while the other was traveling.
In fact, when Boe's now deceased wife was first diagnosed with cancer and given a year to live in the early 2000s, Matt Coleman looked after their home while Boe took his family to Europe.
Coleman, a "very skilled carpenter," patched up Boe's roof and avoided any water damage to the house when a tree impaled the roof. Coleman also built Mrs. Boe a wheelchair ramp when she could no longer walk. Sandy Coleman, who retired two years ago from the Social Security Administration, aided the Boes in the process of applying for disability benefits when Mrs. Boe's illness got worse.
Roy Barlow, a neighbor on the block, also described the Colemans as a friendly and happy couple. He said Sandy Coleman was a power walker and said the couple often walked together on their quiet, tree-lined street.
"Good heavens, this couldn't be more of a shock to me," Barlow said.
Another neighbor was collecting the Colemans' mail when he discovered Matt Coleman's face on the front page of the Clay County Progress, a North Carolina newspaper for the county of just over 8,000 people.
Boe acknowledged he'd seen a change in his long-time neighbor in recent years.
"This is all so out of character for Matt," said Boe, before a long pause. "Although he had been spending a lot of time on his computer and become very focused on conspiracy theories."
On April 23, The Sun published part of a letter to the editor written by Matt Coleman where he decried politicians who advocate for gun control for choosing to "relinquish the liberty of their constituents for the promise of security."
In early January, Coleman also wrote a letter to The Sun's editor claiming the Sandy Hook school shooting and Aurora theater massacre were staged events. That letter was not published.
So far, Coleman has received few visitors at the Clay County Jail. According the logs, Coleman has been visited by his attorney, a local minister and Jake Erhart, the director of Clay County's 911 dispatch.