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Authorities investigating triple murder-suicide in Riverside

Four dead in Riverside murder-suicide
Published: May. 23, 2022 at 8:58 PM CDT
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RIVERSIDE, Ala. (WBRC) - The St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a triple murder-suicide that happened in Riverside on May 23.

Riverside Police Chief Jake Heath says officers responded to a call of a suicidal male around 10:00 a.m. at a home on Depot Street.

Once they arrived on the scene they found 54-year-old William Vance holding a handgun and threatening to kill himself.

“Billy was sitting on the porch with his gun in his hand and of course, they tried to talk it away from him,” says Riverside Mayor Rusty Jessup. “But he wasn’t doing. One of the officers went inside to check on the kids. While he was in there without a snap of a finger Billy pulled the gun up and shot himself.”

When law enforcement entered the home they found the bodies of three female victims. The St. Clair County Sheriff’s office believes Vance is responsible for shooting and killing his wife 51-year-old Florence Vance and their 13 and 16-year-old daughters.

Mayor Jessup says the city is home to about 2,000 people and everyone knows each other.

“These are people that everybody knew and everybody loved,” says Mayor Jessup. “Florence, the mother, was very involved in school. Two beautiful daughters Cara and Samantha. Billy was a squared away guy. They paid attention, they were involved in the community. It’s so out of character. It’s blowing everybody’s mind.”

Investigators are still working to determine what led to this murder-suicide. Information is limited but officials did recover a letter from the scene.

“Billy did leave a note, but that note has not been released,” says Mayor Jessup. “Not even to me. Because they don’t want this to get out. They want to get with the family first. Florence’s parents are in New York and they’re coming in, and the family may not want this released.”

Both teenage girls attended school in the Pell City School system. Mayor Jessup says their bus driver stopped by his office yesterday in disbelief about what happened.

“She had tears in her eyes. She was in love with these two daughters that rode her bus,” says Mayor Jessup. “Cara was the quieter one, she was the younger one. Samantha was just a bundle of joy. Samantha placed third in the state in archery competition this spring for Pell City High School. They hugged their bus driver’s neck Friday when they got off the bus and said we won’t have to be back till next year. They had a little party there and now they’re gone.”

The Pell City School system released this statement:

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