Police identify victim of murder-suicide as Akron special needs teacher

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Jennifer Abshire, 44, was a special needs teacher in Akron. (Courtesy: Akron Public Schools)
Jennifer Abshire, 44, was a special needs teacher in Akron. (Courtesy: Akron Public Schools)

SPRINGFIELD TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- Police from Springfield Township and Doylestown Wednesday provided an update on a suspected murder-suicide.

Officers discovered the body of a woman at a house on Moonlight Drive in Springfield Township early Tuesday.

Police said the woman has been identified as Jennifer Abshire, 44, who was a special-needs teacher in Akron. She taught for 16 years for Akron Public Schools; the past nine years were spent teaching at Betty Jane CLC Elementary School. Jennifer's mother, Susan Carroll, told FOX 8's Lorrie Taylor, "Jennifer had a vibrant personality; she was someone who always saw the good in other people."

Police said they determined that Jennifer was killed by her husband, Thomas Abshire, Tuesday morning.

After the murder, police said Thomas was driving in Doylestown and went through a red light. When police tried to make a traffic stop, they said Abshire shot and killed himself.

According to police, it was when they tried to notify Thomas' next of kin that officers found Jennifer's body.

Police said the motive for the murder-suicide is unknown. They also said they did not know where Thomas was heading when they attempted to stop him.

The couple had been married for 13 years. Jennifer's mother, Susan, and stepfather, Martin Carroll, told FOX 8's Lorrie Taylor that when Jennifer and Thomas married back in 2002, they were a very loving couple and inseparable.

However, in the last two years, they said Thomas' behavior started to change drastically and he quickly went downhill. Jennifer's parents told Lorrie, Thomas was easy to anger; he became very controlling of Jennifer and verbally abusive. They said, at times, he was incoherent and would babble. It  made them wonder if he was on drugs. Jennifer told them she saw no sign of that.  The Carrolls said Thomas had ADHD and Jennifer used her skills as a teacher of children with special needs including children with ADHD to help deal with her husband.

Martin Carroll told Lorrie that Thomas recently told him he was tired of Jennifer managing him.  Jennifer's parents said they do not know for sure what allegedly made Thomas snap. They said he was a self-employed electrician who was struggling financially. The person who was his best friend and the best man in his wedding had recently died.

The Carrolls said Jennifer and Thomas were supposed to go on a fishing trip to Lake Erie Tuesday morning. "I wish he would have just left and gone fishing," they said.

They also told Lorrie Taylor that Thomas tried to set several fires in the home to allegedly cover up the crime, but failed. Jennifer's parents also said that when police tried to pull over Thomas, he had shaved his head; they believe he was trying to disguise himself to get away, but then took his own life.

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