Another mom with shared parenting, 50/50 custody, no child support has her children killed. Women must be able to take kids when leaving bad marriages.
Note sheds light on deaths | A handwritten letter found at the scene of a double murder-suicide indicates the dead father’s state of mind
By Jack Moran
Appeared in print: Wednesday, Sep 22, 2010
JUNCTION CITY — Despondent because his wife of 14 years had left him and filed for divorce, a Junction City man killed the couple’s two young daughters before fatally shooting himself inside his home, investigators said Tuesday.
In a handwritten note found Monday at the scene, Richard Rauscher indicated that the separation from his wife drove him to shoot his children before turning a handgun on himself, Lane County sheriff’s Capt. Bill Thompson said.
“It’s pretty apparent from the context of the note that he was extremely despondent over” the pending divorce, Thompson said.
He declined to be more specific about the note’s contents because investigators “are trying to protect what’s left of this lady’s family.”
Rauscher’s estranged wife, Jennifer Flannery-Rauscher of Eugene, contacted authorities Monday evening after she arrived at her daughters’ school to find that neither third-grader Eryn nor fourth-grader Aidan had attended classes earlier in the day.
Sheriff’s deputies then went to Richard Rauscher’s home at 29789 Harper Road, south of Junction City, to find the windows and doors locked. They forced their way inside and discovered the Rauschers’ daughters dead in separate upstairs bedrooms. Both had been shot, officials said.
Deputies located Richard Rauscher’s body in a downstairs bedroom. A handgun was at his side, and authorities believe he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound after killing his daughters, who were 7 and 9.
“We have no reason to believe otherwise,” Thompson said. A medical examiner will confirm the cause of the deaths.
Investigators suspect the double murder-suicide occurred sometime Sunday night. Earlier that day, Richard Rauscher accompanied his daughters to a birthday party, officials said.
A Harper Road resident who asked that her name not be published said Richard Rauscher, 47, recently confided to her and her husband that the separation from his wife was taking its toll.
“He has been very upset about it,” the woman said. “But he didn’t act like he’d do anything like this.”
Jennifer Flannery-Rauscher filed for divorce on Aug. 2, Lane County Circuit Court records show. She cited irreconcilable differences as the reason why she sought to end the marriage.
She asked a judge to award her and her husband joint custody of their children with parenting time to be split 50-50, records show.
One day after filing for divorce, she obtained a temporary protective order that prohibited her or her husband from interfering with the other’s parenting time.
Court records show no history of domestic violence or restraining orders involving the couple. Richard Rauscher had no criminal record.
While divorce filings show that Jennifer Flannery-Rauscher sought an arrangement in which neither she nor her husband would pay spousal support, she offered to pay him an unspecified amount of money each month in child support.
Jennifer Flannery-Rauscher works as a nurse. Her husband filed documents with the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office in April to operate a home-based carpentry business.
The Harper Road neighbor said she never knew Richard Rauscher to hold a job. “He’s always been a stay-at-home dad,” she said.
Divorce filings indicate that the Rauschers and their daughters lived in the Harper Road home from August 2005 until May of this year. At that time, Jennifer Flannery-Rauscher moved into a south Eugene home.
A bouquet of flowers and cards were left on her doorstep on Tuesday, although no one answered the door there.
The Rauschers’ daughters attended the private Oak Hill School, located adjacent to the Lane Community College campus in south Eugene.
Oak Hill Headmaster Elliott Grey said Tuesday that youngsters who attend the 125-student school were “doing as well as can be expected” in the wake of their classmates’ deaths. Crisis counselors went to campus Tuesday and will be available today to speak with students and staff members, Grey said.
“Our school has been affected by a terrible tragedy,” Grey said. “The most important thing to me right now is taking care of our students, their families and the faculty.”
The school’s parents organization is planning a candlelight vigil on Thursday at Oak Hill, Grey said.
Grey said he had interacted at school with Eryn and Aidan Rauscher, but declined to say anything more about the children.
The Harper Road resident who became acquainted with the Rauschers said Eryn and Aidan regularly rode bicycles in the street, and cared for chickens and a cat.
“They were very sweet, perfect little girls,” the woman said.
“It’s pretty apparent from the context of the note that he was extremely despondent.”
— Capt. Bill Thompson, Lane County Sheriff’s Office