Helper police: Jealousy, failed marriage may have led to murder-suicide
Helper • A man who gunned down his estranged wife's boyfriend then killed himself Sunday in this Carbon County mining community may have been driven by jealously, police said Monday.
Police Chief Trent Anderson said Jeromie Bunch, 30, walked into his wife's residence on Bryner Street just before 1 p.m. Sunday and confronted and fatally shot her boyfriend, James Mitchell, 31, on the home's back porch. Bunch then walked into garage and took his own life.
Bunch's estranged wife, meanwhile, had rushed her two sons and Mitchell's three daughters into a room to protect them. None of them was hurt.
Court records show that Bunch, who lived only a few blocks away from the crime scene, had filed for divorce in August. In turn, his wife had filed for and received a protective order against Bunch at the end of November. That order was still in effect Sunday.
"This a tragic event for this community [and] two sets of children who have lost their fathers." Anderson said. "They're pretty tore up about it."
Anderson added that Bunch previously tried to take his own life sometime around Thanksgiving, which was when police first became aware of him.
The two boys remained in the custody of their mother; the three girls were staying with a grandmother, the chief said. All of the children were under age 9.
By Monday morning the home a small red and green brick structure was blanketed in heavy snow. The curtains were drawn over the windows but the porch light was still on. A snowman decoration dangled from the mailbox.
Coming two days before Christmas, the incident has shaken up the community of 2,000 people. Anderson added that the town's last homicide was in 1991.
"Things like this just don't happen in Helper," Anderson added. "We're a small-town, a tight-knit community."
Iron Horse Antiques owner Mike James agreed. Because of the community's size, all of the school children will have heard about the incident and could be frightened, he added with concern.
"Every Christmas now they'll remember 'that's when my daddy killed my stepdad,'" he said.
An account has been set up at Wells Fargo bank in the name of, "Bunch/Mitchell Children," to help the families with funeral and other expenses.