Man kills wife, grandson, self on anniversary

July 27, 2009 2:56:58 PM PDT
George Doby had been married to Edna 57 years on the day authorities say he shot her to death in the back yard. Police say he also killed their 12-year-old grandson before taking his own life. The gunshots rang out as two of the couple's children and four of their grandchildren were visiting for a Sunday dinner to celebrate the anniversary. The couple's son ran outside to find both his parents and his son Jacob dead.

The motive for the shootings is unknown, but a neighbor who was friends with the family said 82-year-old Edna Doby's health had been declining, and 87-year-old George was caring for her.

"This was an all-American family," Police Capt. Russell Popham said. "The family's still struggling to understand why he did it and obviously we'll never know now."

Margaret Bowman and her husband, Keyes Bowman, had been their neighbors in the suburb south of Atlanta for 42 years. Her son, Glenn Bowman, was visiting when the shots were fired. He looked out of the window to see a boy lying in the grass under a swingset.

Glenn Bowman rushed over to the house to find Alan Doby holding Jacob, who was autistic.

"He was saying, 'Hold on, help is coming,"' Glenn Bowman said of the scene. "Then I heard sirens."

The Dobys' daughter, Jane Laughridge, told authorities she was in the kitchen making dinner with her daughter and could see her parents standing next to each other in the backyard.

Laughridge said she looked away and then several gunshots rang out. When she looked back, her parents and nephew were lying in the yard, according to the police report.

George Doby, the family patriarch, had a Colt .45-caliber revolver in his hand, police said.

Stone Road, where the Dobys lived for more than four decades, was quiet Monday. The brick facade of their ranch house sat dark, the chairs on the porch empty.

Efforts to reach members of the Doby family were unsuccessful. A man who answered the phone at Jane Laughridge's home declined comment.

Margaret Bowman said the Dobys were a loving couple. Edna Doby had become hard of hearing and used a walker due to Parkinson's Disease and arthritis, Bowman said. Recently, George Doby had been anxious about having to pass his driver's license exam because his eyesight had been failing.

"They were good to each other," she said. "They were older, and now he was having to look after her."

Bowman recalled that the family was close and gathered for most special occasions: birthdays, anniversaries, holidays.

The Dobys were also foster parents who cared for a number of children along with their own, Bowman said. Edna Doby was good at sewing and would make drapes and layette sets for the foster babies.

"They were very proud people," Margaret Bowman said as she tried to think of why such a tragedy would happen. "All I know is ... depression. Who knows?"

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