DARBY, Mont. - Ravalli County Sheriff Chris Hoffman has released the names of two people who died in a murder-suicide near Darby.
Hoffman said 53-year-old Michael Charles Buckles shot 50-year-old Holly N. Schick-Lewis multiple times late Sunday night or early Monday morning, then turned the gun on himself.
Hoffman said Buckles appears to have died very shortly after he shot the woman.
The Sheriff's Department said Schick-Lewis' body was discovered by a visitor to the house early Monday afternoon. That visitor then left the residence and called 911.
Deputies found Schick-Lewis in the kitchen and Buckles was located in a bedroom.
The murder-suicide has been the talk of town for two days. When a violent tragedy like this hits a small town like Darby, it isn't an anonymous news story about strangers.
If many of the customers who come to Deb's Restaurant downtown didn't know Mike Buckles or Holly Schick-Lewis, they probably at least saw them around town.
"It's a sad thing. Two lives are gone," said the restaurant's owner, Debbie Sullivan.
Townspeople describe a tense, violent relationship.
Mike Bell is a former neighbor. Bell said he welcomed Holly into his own house twice after she left Buckles and both times, he said, she returned to him.
"He would walk around with guns strapped to him all the time," said Bell, "and he was kind of a loose cannon."
Bell said one day after he, himself, had just gotten out of the hospital, he was sitting out on his deck, and Buckles was screaming.
"He was right in her face," said Bell. "Just inches away and she was backing up and he's screaming at her."
Bell said he told Buckles to leave her alone. The former neighbor recalls that Buckles told him, "I'll put you back in the hospital."
Stacey Umhey is director of SAFE, Supporters of Abuse Free Environment, in Hamilton. Umhey said SAFE helps 475 abuse survivors in Ravalli County every year.
"When something like this happens people get scared," said Umhey, "and they begin to feel the community isn't as safe as they hoped it would be."
Just up the road from the house the couple died in is Lake Como. One of Holly's last Facebook posts calls Lake Como a blessed place to heal.
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