Summit County murder-suicide autopsy report released in July |

Summit County murder-suicide autopsy report released in July

Summit County Sheriff officers responded to a welfare check at a townhome in Wildernest. On Feb. 10, James McNaul shot and killed his wife, Dorthe McNaul, before shooting himself in the head. The incident was the first murder-suicide in Summit County history.
File Photo |

The Summit County Corner’s Office released an autopsy report this month following a murder-suicide case that took place in February of this year. The case is the first reported murder-suicide in the county and is currently under investigation by the Summit County Sheriff’s Office and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

According to the coroner’s report, the deceased couple was found in their Wildernest home, with the man sitting on the couch holding a .45 caliber handgun; the woman was lying prone on the floor with three gunshot wounds.

The cause of death for 75-year-old James McNaul was determined to be a wound to his right temple, which appeared to be self-inflicted.

A forensic pathologist determined that 73-year-old Dorthe McNaul died from the three wounds. The presence of gunpowder would indicate that a gun was fired less than two feet away.

“That gives you an idea of how close the range of fire is,” said forensic pathologist Dr. Ben Galloway.

Two large-caliber bullets were found, measuring half-an-inch in base diameter and length, consistent with both parties’ wounds. The Sheriff’s Office also reported evidence of multiple gunshots around the house.

Summit County Sheriff officers arrived to the crime scene at 9:30 p.m. on Feb. 10, responding to a welfare check. According to a February 13 report, investigators determined that James shot his wife before turning the gun on himself.

Neither party showed traces of having consumed alcohol or drugs around the time of the incident, according to a toxicology report.

“These deaths unfolded as a domestic tragedy,” a Sheriff’s Office release read, adding that the McNauls had filed for divorce after being married for 52 years.

Both were longtime Summit County residents and had volunteered with the Summit Range Association and the Summit Historical Society. Despite her battle with cancer, Dorthe was known to set aside time to help care for others. James was described as a hard worker and often gave safety talks at the Summit County Shooting Range. The incident came as a shock to those who knew them.

Taneil Ilano, a public information officer with the Sheriff’s Office, said it would take several months to a year to complete the investigation.

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