DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – An ex-convict and Iraq war veteran being sought nationwide in the shooting deaths of his ex-girlfriend and her pregnant sister in Michigan has been found dead in West Virginia, police said Wednesday.
Michigan State Police Lt. Sean Furlong says the U.S. Marshals Service discovered the body of 38-year-old Thomas Fritz in a remote cabin in Tyler County, W.Va., on Tuesday night.
Fritz had been the subject of a nationwide manhunt after being charged with killing his 33-year-old ex-girlfriend, Amy Merrill, in a house they shared in Blissfield, a village on the edge of southern Michigan’s scenic Irish Hills region.
Fritz is also accused of killing the woman’s sister, 24-year-old Lisa Gritzmaker, who was eight months’ pregnant, and shooting and wounding their 52-year-old mother, Robin Lynn McCowan.
Kurt Weinschenker, digital journalist at CBS affiliate WTRF-TV in Wheeling, West Virginia, spoke with U.S. Marshal Alex Neville, who said Fritz was involved in a brief police standoff before his body was found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Neville said Marshals travelled to West Virginia with the hopes of serving a warrant after receiving a tip that Fritz might be hiding out there.
“As arrest team members were approaching the residence, a suspect matching a description of the fugitive was spotted on the rear of the dwelling,” said Neville. “At that time, Deputy Marshals spotted a rifle in the subject’s hand, what appeared to be a rifle, and the subject fled into the residence and a shot was heard from within the residence.”
Around midnight, police tossed C3 tear gas and forced entry into the cabin, where they found Fritz dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, said Neville.
Police are expected to release more information later Wednesday.
TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.