JUNCTION CITY, Ore. - A man upset about his pending divorce shot and killed his daughters as they slept before taking his own life sometime Sunday night, the sheriff's office said.
Sheriff's deputies discovered the bodies of Richard Rauscher, 48, and his daughters, Aidan Jane Rauscher, 9, and Eryn Flannery Rauscher, 7, inside the family home south of Junction City late Monday night.
The mother of the girls, Jennifer Rauscher, 37, had gone to Oak Hill School to pick up her daughters, as set out in legal agreements on file in the Lane County Courthouse. Staff at the private school near Lane Community College told her the girls had not arrived for school that morning.
Deputies responded to the house after Rauscher's estranged wife Jennifer called around 5:45 p.m. and said Richard's car was in the driveway but the house was dark and locked. Jennifer Rauscher now lives in Eugene but lived in the house off River Road with Richard and the girls until May of this year, according to court records.
"After finding the vehicle in the driveway, the house all locked up and no response on all those phone lines, that's when people start to think the worst," Capt. Bill Thompson with the Lane County Sheriff's Office said Tuesday. "And in this case, the worst is what she got."
A deputy and a supervisor decided to force entry to the home. They found the three dead in different rooms. Investigators at the scene said it appeared Richard Rauscher shot both of the girls before turning the gun on himself.
"They were the ones who forced entry, they were the ones who found the bodies," Thompson said. "They were the ones who had to come out to the driveway and inform the mother that her entire family was gone."
Richard Rauscher had no known prior history of violence, although Thompson said investigators still had some unanswered questions they planned to investigate.
"He was obviously extremely upset, extremely despondent over the separation," Thompson said, "but beyond that we don't have any sort of mental health history on him yet."
Crisis counselors from Eugene and Springfield responded to Oak Hill School on Tuesday to help provide support to the 120 students who attend school there. The school's headmaster said a parent group is planning a candlelight vigil and celebration of life for Aidan and Eryn, scheduled for this Thursday.
The sheriff's deputies also were offered help after the incident. Thompson said many of the sheriff's office employees have families of their own and young children. He said the sheriff's office now offers employees a "critical incident stress debriefing" to help deal with the emotions involved in investigating such crimes.
Thompson also said Rauscher left a note.
"The theme was his despondency over their separation and appeared to be a pending divorce," Thompson said.
Oak Hill School staff said photos of the girls would be on display Thursday at the vigil.