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Apparent triple homicide in California has Bemidji ties

A former Bemidji woman and her two children have died in an apparent triple homicide in northern California.

Oroville Police Chief Kirk Trostle identified the victims as Lea Shelton, 30, Lillyonna Grigsby, 3, and 18-month-old Isaac Shelton, according to an article posted Saturday on the Oroville Mercury-Register Web site.

Shelton and her children were found dead at about 3 p.m. July 16 in their apartment in Oroville, Calif., according to the article.

Later that day, the article states, the Butte County Sheriff's Office reported that Shelton's boyfriend, Samuel Gonzalez, 27, was found dead in a vehicle with a single shot to the head in an apparent suicide.

"It's a tragedy," said Charlotte Tarnow of Bemidji, who worked with Shelton at Telespectrum before it transitioned to Synergy Solutions. "She was a sweet woman."

According to the Oroville Mercury-Register article, the victims were apparently killed while asleep between 5 a.m. and 11 a.m., when Gonzalez was reportedly seen leaving.

Shelton was bludgeoned with an object, as were the two children, Trostle said in the article. He also noted that Shelton was stabbed in the back of the neck with a knife.

"We don't know why Mr. Gonzalez did the acts he did, but for some reason, he apparently became enraged," Trostle said in the article.

The deaths were initially reported by an aunt who checked on the family at about 3 p.m. July 16 because the children hadn't been dropped off at day care and Shelton hadn't shown up at work, Trostle said in the article. She found the bodies and called 911, according to the article.

From information gathered at the apartments, Gonzalez and the woman hadn't had any altercations and he seemed to get along with the children, Trostle said in the article. Gonzalez had lived at the apartment for a month and a half, according to the article.

Sheriff Perry Reniff said officers are also investigating Gonzalez in connection with a cold case from Sept. 28, 1998, involving the homicide of Va Vang, 19, of Oroville, according to the article.