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Ash, Tracy and Julia died 1996

ASH, SNOOK, MERRILL, BECKMAN, ARNOLD, PARKER

Posted By: Reid R. Johnson (email)
Date: 9/19/2014 at 03:25:32

Cedar Rapids Gazette, Thur., 4 April 1996.

Strawberry Point- Tracy Ash, 38, died Sunday, March 31, 1998, in a murder-suicide at his home. Services: 10 a.m. Friday, Shrine of Memories Funeral Home, Ottumwa, where friends may call after 10 a.m. today and the family will be present from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Burial: Memorial Lawn Cemetery, Ottumwa.

Survivors include a son, Eric of Waterloo; a stepdaughter, Cindy Snook of Chariton; a stepson, Mike Merrill of Knoxville; a brother, Larry of Strawberry Point; and a sister, Connie Beckman of Ogden.

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Cedar Rapids Gazette, Monday, 1 April 1996. Condensed.

2 Dead in Strawberry Point. Police Chief, Wife Fatally Shot; Circumstances Unclear.

Strawberry Point Police Chief Tracy Ash and his wife, Julie, were found dead in their modest two-level home at 311 Buffalo Street on Sunday afternoon.

Sources told The Gazette the Ashes died of gunshot wounds and some residents thought their deaths were due to a murder-suicide.

Clayton County Sheriff Verdean Dietrich confirmed their identities but did not release any more information. The Division of Criminal Investigation has been called to investigate further.

Tracy Ash had been chief of the two-man force for about 7 years. The Ashes were described by some locals as a very quiet, very private couple. They liked to keep to themselves and didn't mix with people.

A city official said the city was happy with Tracy's job performance and people asked thought he was a good police chief.

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Cedar Rapids Gazette, Tuesday, 2 April 1996. Condensed.

The deaths of the Strawberry Point police chief and his wife appear to be a murder-suicide, Division of Criminal Investigation officials said last night.

The two died of gunshot wounds the Clayton County Medical Examiner said. He said he had reason to believe one of the Ashes shot the other, then shot himself or herself. A .38 caliber handgun belonging to the family was found near the bodies. The DCI did not indicate who authorities believe was the shooter.

What is puzzling about this case, some locals said, is that nobody in town seemed to know the Ashes well. No one suspected there could have been serious trouble in the house.

Tracy Ash had been the city's police chief for 9 years. Yet residents, including his colleagues at City Hall, described a man so private he spent most of his time in his office, away from people and off the streets he was hired to patrol.

Julia Ash was reliable and hard-working, said co-workers at a grocery store in Elkader and a nursing home in Strawberry Point. But, they say, Julia Ash kept to herself and didn't share even basic details about her personal life.

The Ashes came to Strawberry Point from Madrid, in central Iowa, where Tracy Ash had spent two years as a police officer.

The Ashes had met some 20 years ago in Chariton, Iowa, where Tracy was a police officer. Julia had grown up in Chariton and has family there. Both Tracy and Julia Ash were on their second marriages. They have three grown children.

None of the family members could be reached for comment.

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Cedar Rapids Gazette, Wed., 24 April 1996. Condensed.

Fatal Shots Fired by Julia Ash: DCI.

The DCI conducted an array of laboratory tests and interviewed 30 or so people in it's investigation of the murder-suicide case of Tracy and Julia Ash at Strawberry Point.

Tests showed Tracy Ash had a blood-alcohol level of 0.18, above the 0.10 level where intoxication is legally presumed. Julia Ash was below the legal limit, with only a trace of alcohol at 0.01.

A family friend of the Ashes, Tracey Baldwin, 26, had been drinking at the Ash family home the evening prior to the murder-suicide, but she had left the home at 12:30 a.m. on 31 March, an hour-and-a-half before the Ashes were shot in their bedroom.

DCI agents said that at some point after Tracey Baldwin left the Ash home Tracy and Julia Ash fought just before the murder-suicide, and that the Ashes had had some fights during their 16 years of marriage. A bruise described as fresh was found on Julia Ash's arm.

The DCI concluded that Julia Ash had shot Tracy Ash in the head with a .38-caliber handgun as he lay in bed. His body then fell to the floor.

Julia Ash shot herself twice, once in the mouth then once in the head. Her body was found stretched across the bed.

Blood splatterings and part of a bullet on Tracy's leg proved he could not have fired the shots. The DCI said "There was a preponderance of evidence. We didn't just look at one item". Concurring with the DCI finding were the medical examiner, Clayton County medical examiner, and the Clayton County Sheriff's Department.

The mother of Julia Ash, Irene Arnold of Chariton, didn't know of any marital problems. "They loved each other", Arnold said. "I can't imagine either one of them shooting the other. It would have been totally out of character for Julia to do something like this". Arnold said she didn't believe her daughter did the shootings.

DCI agents would not elaborate on the extent of the Ashes' marital problems. There were no police reports or evidence to indicate physical abuse.

There were early reports that the Ashes' may have had financial troubles, but DCI determined their finances were normal. Tracy Ash earned $25,000 a year and Julia Ash had not worked in the past few years.

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NOTES:

A full obituary for Julia Ash was not found. Check with the local Chariton, Iowa, newspapers.

Julia Ash is buried in Chariton Cemetery, Chariton, Iowa. The IGPP shows a photo of her and her sisters, Iris Parker, gravestone.

Submitter is not related.

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