UPDATE: Sheriff Confirms Murder-Suicide

By Mark Geary, Reporter

Two Johnson County Sheriff's Department patrol cars park side-by-side in an alley along E. Rice St. between S. Center St. and S. Devoe St. on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2009, in Lone Tree. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)


By Becky Ogann

LONE TREE - The Johnson County Sheriff's Office is confirming the deaths of two people in Lone Tree is a murder-suicide.

Preliminary autopsy results show that Tina Marie O'Leary, 39, died of asphyxiation, and Timothy Owen Mellinger, 51, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

On Saturday, the Sheriff's Office received a call requesting a welfare check be done at 401 S. Center Street in Lone Tree, Iowa.

Deputies arrived shortly before 7:00 p.m. that night. Police found O'Leary and Mellinger dead inside.

The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office along with the State Division of Criminal Investigation has determined that O’Leary and Mellinger had previously been in a romantic relationship.

That two-year relationship ended around Thanksgiving, 2008 and Mellinger was no longer living at the Lone Tree residence.

Investigators do believe Mellinger killed O’Leary before taking his own life.

The Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek also told TV9 that O'Leary had gotten a criminal trespass warning against her Mellinger on January 1st. It's not a restraining order, but basically asks the person to cut off all contact and communication.

"We use them for many different things. If someone is routinely going somewhere like a bar and they don't want them going to that place we may serve them a criminal trespassing warrant."

The sheriff would not elaborate on what led to that criminal trespassing warning back in January.

Tina O'Leary worked at the Riverside Casino and had three children.

Tim Mellinger was a maintenance worker at Kirkwood Community College's Iowa City campus and is from Washington.

A Kirkwood spokesperson called the deaths an "unfortunate event".

Late this afternoon, the college released this statement:

"Kirkwood Community College shares the shock and pain of the wider community of eastern Iowa regarding this terrible event. Our thoughts, prayers and support are with the families involved and all of Tim's colleagues at our college."

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