Established 1826 — Oldest College Newspaper West of the Alleghenies

Questions, few answers in police investigation

Since Larry E. Tipton II shot and killed junior Rebecca Eldemire, then himself, on Sunday morning, OPD's investigation and subsequent silence has raised more questions than it has answered.

The first, and most prominent, is: what happened Saturday night?

At a press conference Monday, OPD's spokesman Sgt. Jon Varley gave reporters a basic account of the apparent murder-suicide.

But, when pressed for details, he said he had planned to tell reporters more, but the City of Oxford's law director Stephen McHugh instructed him against it. McHugh did not return calls requesting more information.

Then, when asked for details again on Thursday, Varley said he had nothing more to add.

That leaves troubling gaps in the community's understanding of the tragedy. Here's what is known and not known, based on police records and Varley's account.

At 9:56 p.m. Saturday, Eldemire called 911 from the apartment she shared with three roommates at Level 27, a mile south of campus. She told the dispatcher that her ex-boyfriend was coming to see her and that she was nervous.

Eldemire said Tipton was 15-20 minutes away.

"He's coming in from out of town and he wants to talk to me," she said to the dispatcher. "He obviously knows where I live and I'm just a little nervous about the situation."

Eldemire told the dispatcher that Tipton didn't say anything about coming there to hurt her and that he had no history of being violent.

"Have you guys been fighting or, why are you nervous?" the dispatcher asked.

"Well, yeah, I broke up with him today," Eldemire responded.

She said she drove to Columbus to talk to him that morning and, during the encounter, he was "a little violent."

"He was just throwing things around," she said.

Then, the dispatcher asked, "Do you know if he has any weapons or anything?"

"He does own guns, but I don't think he would bring any with him," Eldemire said.

At this point, it is unclear exactly how many guns Tipton owned, or if he owned any at all.

According to OPD documents, officers who searched Tipton's apartment recovered a "bag with misc. live rounds" and a "bag with misc. gun manuals and receipts."

"I was just wondering if I could get a police officer here, just to make sure everything's okay," Eldemire said.

When officers arrived at Eldemire's apartment, they waited for Tipton in the parking lot, according to OPD records.

It is not clear whether or not the responding officers knew Eldemire told the dispatcher that Tipton owned guns.

When he arrived, Eldemire asked the officers to escort her and Tipton to her apartment. Once in the apartment, Eldemire, Tipton and the officers had a "brief conversation," an OPD press release said. Eldemire then told the officers they were no longer needed and they could leave.

OPD has not said whether officers searched Tipton or his car for weapons.

That night, before leaving for Oxford, Tipton had left a suicide note in his Columbus-area apartment, a search warrant inventory said.

What this suicide note said is also unknown.

At 8:52 the next morning, OPD received another 911 call - this time from Eldemire's roommates.

"My friend and her boyfriend were having some issues last night and then he ended up spending the night," one roommate said to the dispatcher. "And then, about 10 minutes ago, we heard a bunch of really loud noises from her room and then an alarm went off in our apartment."

It's not clear what exactly set the smoke alarms off, whether it was the smoke from or the blast of a gun.

"It scared the living daylights out of us," the roommate said.

The roommate said the bangs sounded "like they were taking a fire extinguisher to a wall."

Either way, Eldemire's door was locked and no one was answering, her roommates said.

When OPD officers entered the room, they found Eldemire dead from multiple gunshot wounds and Tipton dead from a single gunshot wound. The officers found a revolver next to Tipton. The gun had a capacity of seven rounds. Just two rounds remained unfired.

When police searched Tipton's apartment in Taylor Station, Ohio, they found an empty Smith & Wesson gun case and the suicide note.

OPD is continuing to investigate the case as a murder-suicide, Varley said.