Police searched Larry E. Tipton for guns but didn’t turn up any weapons hours before he shot and killed a 21-year-old Miami University junior who had broken up with him the day before.
Rebecca Eldemire called a police dispatcher just before 10 p.m. Saturday night requesting police to come to her Oxford apartment because her ex-boyfriend was driving 130 miles from his Columbus-area apartment to talk with her about their break up.
Three police officers waited until Tipton arrived in his Toyota Camry at the Level 27 apartment complex in Oxford. Once there, officers asked to search Tipton’s body for weapons.
Sgt. Jon Varley of the Oxford Police Department said police did not ask to search Tipton’s car, nor would they have had probable cause to do so. In Tipton’s Toyota Camry, though, sat two weapons.
“He consented to a search of his person,” Varley said. “He was taken upstairs and (police) talked with him for a little while.”
Eldemire then told police they could leave her apartment and Tipton could stay.
After hearing Eldemire’s roommates recount the night, police believe Tipton might have gained access to the revolver when he went to his car around midnight. At that time, Tipton told the roommates he was going to his car to get a plant he planned to gift Eldemire. Police say he came back to the apartment with the plant in hand but none of the witnesses noted a gun. He informed the roommates he planned to stay the night in the apartment.
“At that point, they were getting along,” Varley said. “They went back to the room.”
Hours later, at 8:45 a.m. Sunday, Eldemire’s roommates would wake up to loud bangs and smoke alarms going off in their apartment.
Eldemire was shot more than once Sunday morning with the revolver and then Tipton turned the gun on himself; five of the seven casings were spent, Varley said. Four of those bullets were found on the scene of the murder-suicide, and police believe Tipton might have shot the other one elsewhere, such as a gun range. Tipton had a registered hunting license.
Police also later found a shotgun, locked in a case, in Tipton’s car. A suicide note penned by Tipton was first discovered at the Oxford apartment, and then later that day, Columbus police discovered another at his residence in Columbus.
Alcohol or drugs don’t appear to be a factor at this time, Varley said, but police are still awaiting toxicology reports.
He said the investigation into the murder-suicide is still ongoing, as officers await the coroner’s report.
But, he said officers reacted to Saturday’s call from Eldemire as best they could with the knowledge they were given.
“Based on what we knew at the we time, we had no indication … (Tipton) had no history of violence and no threat of violence had been made,” Varley said.
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