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NorCal Murder-Suicide Hits Home in Santa Barbara

Calavaras County authorities say teens Alex and Macaila Marshall were slain by their father, who then killed himself

Authorities say Philip Marshall, 54, killed his son Alex, 17, and daughter Macaila, 14, last week in Calavaras County before taking his own life. The family formerly lived in the Santa Barbara area.

Authorities say Philip Marshall, 54, killed his son Alex, 17, and daughter Macaila, 14, last week in Calavaras County before taking his own life. The family formerly lived in the Santa Barbara area.  (Calavaras Enterprise courtesy photo)

By Joel Metzger, Calavaras Enterprise |

A murder-suicide that claimed the lives of two teenagers and their father in Northern California last week is reverberating in Santa Barbara, where the family formerly lived, and those who knew them are in mourning.

Former airline captain Philip Marshall, 54, killed his son Alex, 17, and daughter Macaila, 14, each with a single bullet to the head, as they slept nestled under blankets on the living room couch last Thursday, according to the Calavaras County Sheriff’s Department.

The Marshalls formerly lived in the Santa Barbara area, where Macaila, 14, attended La Colina Junior High School in 2010-11, and her brother, Alex, attended San Marcos High School, according to Santa Barbara Unified School District spokeswoman Barbara Keyani.

When students at San Marcos learned of the deaths, a poster was placed in the school’s main hallway and students wrote messages, Keyani said.

The story below is the latest from the Calavaras Enterprise, and is reprinted by permission.

. . .

Calaveras County Coroner Kevin Raggio said he determined Philip Marshall and his two children were all killed by a gunshot wound to the head, after performing an autopsy Tuesday morning.

For details, read Tragedy at Forest Meadows.

Marshall shot his two children, Alex, 17, and Macaila, 14, along with the family dog before turning the gun on himself at his home in Forest Meadows late last week.

The weapon used in all the killings was a Glock 9-mm, which was registered to Marshall, according to Sgt. Chris Hewitt of the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office.

While the exact time of death was initially unclear, Raggio believes he’s narrowed it down.

“My assumption, from condition of the bodies and so forth, it occurred either late Thursday night or Friday morning,” he said. “Number one, the kids didn’t make it to school Friday.”

As is standard procedure in cases like these, Raggio is having a toxicology report performed on the blood of Marshall and his two children. These tests will determine if there were any drugs present in the blood stream.

Reports from the Sheriff’s Department indicate the children were sleeping when shot, however Raggio said they were lying six feet away from each other on separate parts of a large U-shaped sectional in the living room. It’s unlikely Marshall could have shot one without waking the other.

When Hewitt was asked about this, he declined to comment.

“I can’t comment on that,” he said. “It’s part of an active investigation.”

When asked whether it was possible that Alex and Macaila were drugged, Raggio said he couldn’t comment at this time.

“That’s a good question,” he said. “We will be checking tox on everybody. It did appear as though they were sleeping.”

Hewitt said the toxicology report and pathologist’s report will hopefully be completed within two-to-three weeks.

Conspiracy theories about the deaths are gaining steam on comment forums below stories about the incident, Hewitt noted. Many of these stem from Marshall’s apparent involvement with the CIA as a contract pilot in the 1980s and several books he wrote about 911 in which he accused the United States Government of being involved in the attacks.

Friends and classmates of Alex and Macaila were still in a state of shock and grief at Bret Harte High School Tuesday morning. Students from Calaveras High School put a large sign up above Alex and Macaila’s lockers that read, “Two schools, one community, one heart.”

Grief counselors will be available throughout the week to talk with grieving students.

A candlelight vigil was planned for Wednesday night at the school.

A memorial service for Alex and Macaila will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Bret Harte Football stadium.

— Joel Metzger is a reporter for the Calavaras Enterprise. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).




comments powered by Disqus

» on 02.07.13 @ 12:52 AM

Indications are that Marshall could have fired the fatal shots, but let’s wait for the full investigation before we completely convict him. It’s so sad about the kids, but what was the motive? Certainly, the Saudis had a few.

» on 02.07.13 @ 02:45 AM

Crazy! I knew this guy. Santa Barbara View is calling conspiracy theory and even as a Democrat I wouldn’t rule that out. Terribly sad but probably more to this story.

» on 02.07.13 @ 03:04 PM

The “murder suicide” story is the knee-jerk response of the media. This is a regular occurrence regarding events with controversial underpinnings - because first impressions/explanations are the ones that the public tend to believe, and they are the ones that form “accepted history” regardless of the truth. As Mark Twain famously said “a lie can get half way around the world before the truth has tied its bootlaces”.

FACT: The forensic findings will not be forthcoming for at least another 10 days. If they point to anything other than “murder suicide”, the we probably wont hear about it. The story has already been written, and nobody likes to admit to errors.

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