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Deaths at Cortez home ruled a murder-suicide

A family of three was found dead at 1609 Tucker Court in Cortez on Jan. 19. Police have determined that it was a murder-suicide, and no motive was found. (Jim Mimiaga/The Journal)
No motive has been determined; phone of suspect being analyzed for clues

An investigation into the deaths of three people at a home in northeast Cortez in January has determined that two died from homicide and one from suicide, according to police.

On Jan. 19, William A. Sanderson, 79, and his wife, Ona Sanderson, 77 – the owners of the home – as well as Ona Sanderson’s son, Linas Gasis, 46, were found dead at their residence at 1609 Tucker Court.

The Sandersons died of blunt force trauma, and Gasis died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound from a handgun, said Assistant Chief Andy Brock with the Cortez Police Department.

Gasis is the suspect in the murder of his mother and her husband, Brock said. There are no other suspects.

No motive for the murders has been determined.

“Nothing came out indicating a reason,” Brock said.

He said relatives of the family had reported to investigators they had been concerned about Gasis’ emotional state.

The Montezuma County Coroner’s Office determined that the deaths occurred two to four days before their bodies were found. Police responded to the home after a family member asked for a welfare check because they had not heard from the residents for a few days.

Gasis’ phone data is being analyzed by the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office to look for evidence of a possible motive, Brock said.

Neighbors reported they know of no signs of trouble at the home. The family had lived there since at least 2019, and police said no one in the family had a known criminal record.

William Sanderson was a courteous and generous neighbor, said Donna Murphy, who lives across the street.

“He would bring our trash cans in when we were away, and gave us cucumbers from his garden,” she said. “We’re heartbroken.”

Another neighbor, who declined to be identified, said Sanderson was a “good man” who was retired and took frequent walks around the neighborhood.

“He cared for his wife, who had medical problems. He walked the neighborhood and was a polite man to talk with. He left fresh vegetables at our door, brought in our trash cans when we were gone,” the neighbor said.