When a Canon City Police Department employee failed to show up for work Thursday night and appeared to be ignoring calls, officers were unsure what they'd find when they went by her home for a welfare check.
From left: Priscilla Samento, Daniel Samento (Credit: Canon City Police Dept.)
When the two officers got to 49-year-old Priscilla Samento's home on the 700 block of Whipple Avenue, they found her body and the body of her husband Daniel Samento.
In a news conference Friday, the police department confirmed that Priscilla, a CCPD communications officer, was fatally shot by her husband. Authorities say 56-year-old Daniel, a retired officer, then killed himself.
The police department is still reeling from the news that two of their own were involved in an apparent murder-suicide. 11 News reporter Gina Esposito says the officer conducting the news conference Friday was in tears while speaking to the press. Daniel, who retired less than three years ago, was a 30-year veteran of the department, while Priscilla was lauded as an excellent employee for the 21 years she worked as a dispatcher. Three grief stations have been set up by the police department for employees.
"These were excellent people, excellent employees. They served the community exceptionally well. We extend our deepest sympathies to their family. We are literally in a state of shock.," Canon City Police Chief Paul Shultz said.
Some family members and friends of the couple told 11 News they sensed that not all was right.
Esposito spoke to Daniel's son, Jesse, who said his father was recently diagnosed with schizophrenia and paranoia. He said it was triggered after his grandmother's passing last year. He told Esposito that he had been worried about his father's health problems for a while. However, he says he has many fond memories of his father before the illness took over.
Some neighbors of the Samentos say they could sense something was wrong.
"I did see some depression in Dan," Jack Wharton said. "I did talk with him last week and he was pretty down. But I don't know what their problems were."
Other neighbors say they were a quiet, but friendly couple.
"They were both very nice people. She was a very warm person, a hugging kind of person and we did share a passion for animals," Diane McNeave said.
Neighbor Harriet Cumrine said, "He was very nice, would come to get my car, fix it, and bring it back."
Jesse told Esposito that the couple was married for 10 years, and had started building a bigger house in Canon City.
At this time, there is no known motive.
Anyone who has information to this case is asked to call the Cañon City Police Department at 276-5600 or contact Crime Stoppers.