Hawkins County mother, son dead in what investigators are calling murder/suicide

Jeff Bobo • Mar 1, 2008 at 12:00 AM

CARTERS VALLEY — Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office investigators were called to what they believe was a murder/suicide Saturday afternoon involving a mother who shot her son in the head and then turned the gun on herself.

The incident occurred about 4 p.m. Saturday at 817 Waycross Road, just north of Mount Carmel near Carters Valley Road.

Police said the father and husband, Bruce Roberts, had been working in his garage that afternoon and told deputies when he went inside he found his wife and his son dead in his son’s bedroom.

The son, David Bruce Roberts, 34, also of 817 Waycross Road, was free on bond at the time of his death, having been indicted on charges of vehicular homicide and vehicular assault by the Hawkins County grand jury last month.

He was accused of being under the influence of prescription medication in an Aug. 4, 2007, two-car accident in Mount Carmel that took the life of Frances A. Taylor, 72, and seriously injured her son, Christopher A. Taylor, 44, of Gate City.

Investigators learned Saturday that David Roberts’ mother, Betty Roberts, 62, had been very upset with her son since the fatal wreck occurred.

“She was quite upset with David due to the accident and subsequent charges he had against him,” Hawkins County Sheriff Roger Christian said. “Then when he got indicted on the vehicular homicide charge, she became even more upset with him.”

Christian said the physical evidence indicates that Betty Roberts shot her son in the head with a .22-caliber pistol and then took her own life with a shot to the head. There was no evidence of a struggle, leading detectives to conclude that it was a murder/suicide, Christian added.

The two bodies were sent to the Quillen College of Medicine in Johnson City for an autopsy.

“There’s no living witness to this incident, so all we can do is speculate,” Christian said. “Someone we interviewed made the comment that she’s told David he’d better not come back with drugs in his system after this wreck. In any event we’ve been told from several people that she was very distraught over this wreck.”

Detectives reportedly found prescription medication in the residence, but Christian couldn’t say who it belonged to.

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