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The two who died in the homicide-suicide were said to be dedicated to the victim’s daughter.
JOEL HAWKSLEY | The Roanoke Times
Roanoke police investigate the deaths of Erin Elizabeth Thomas and Jon Peter McIlroy at a home in the 1100 block of Brandon Avenue on Monday.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
The only apparent worry for Erin Elizabeth Thomas and Jon Peter McIlroy was buzzing out of the office in time to make sure Thomas’ daughter got home from middle school safe and sound, their employer said Wednesday.
George Aznavorian owns East Coast Auto Source , a Bedford County auto salvage business where Thomas, 31, and McIlroy, 58, worked. They were found dead Monday morning in the Roanoke home they shared in what police are calling a homicide-suicide. Roanoke police spokeswoman Aisha Johnson said in a news release that police believe McIlroy shot Thomas and then himself.
Aznavorian said the pair had been in a relationship for years. While they were not married, they lived together in a brick house at Brandon Avenue and Brighton Road in southwest Roanoke, focusing on work in Bedford County, then switching their attention to Thomas’ daughter as soon as they left the building.
“Their concerns were her and seeing that she got home,” Aznavorian said.
McIlroy had worked with East Coast’s website and IT operations for more than a year, while Thomas had worked for East Coast for the last few months, performing clerical duties. Aznavorian said their co-workers saw no signs of trouble in the couple.
“Nothing seemed out of sorts,” Aznavorian said. “I think everybody here was profoundly shocked.”
Outside of work and taking care of Thomas’ daughter, he said the pair largely kept to themselves. He said they refrained from drinking and smoking.
He said McIlroy hailed from Great Britain but had lived in the United States for many years. Thomas has family in the Roanoke area. One member of the family declined to speak publicly this week; attempts to reach others were unsuccessful.
One of Thomas’ relatives found Thomas and McIlroy dead while trying to check on Thomas, Johnson said.
A search warrant filed in Roanoke Circuit Court said the female family member found them in an upstairs bathroom of the home, which Thomas owned. She called 911, and officers responded to the scene at about 9:55 a.m. Monday morning. Johnson said the exact time of the shooting is still under investigation.
Johnson said a gun was found near McIlroy’s body. The search warrant said investigators recovered a black handgun, along with two cartridge casings and a bullet fragment from the bathroom.
Thomas’ daughter is staying with family, according to Aznavorian. In the office, Aznavorian said co-workers are wondering how anyone could commit such an act of violence.
“We’ve been kicking it around,” he said. “What would ever lead someone to that end? And nobody has a clue.”
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