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Couple found dead in apartment

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Posted: Monday, February 11, 2013 2:30 am

The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the deaths of a Gainesville couple after a maintenance worker discovered their bodies Thursday afternoon.

Steven R. England, 46, and Mary E. Dunnigan, 44, were found dead in their apartment at the Tower Oaks Glen apartment complex, 6900 SW 21st Lane, said ASO spokesman Art Forgey.

Investigators conducted an autopsy of the bodies Friday morning, but Forgey said the results won’t be available for a few weeks.

Deputies aren’t looking for a suspect, Forgey said. He didn’t comment further on what authorities believe happened.

However, based on the nature of England and Dunnigan’s relationship, apartment employees and neighbors said they know what happened in Building O, Apartment four.

Luis Lugo, a painter at the apartment complex, was the first to discover the bodies.

While walking past England and Dunnigan’s apartment Thursday, he glanced through the window and saw Dunnigan lying on the floor and England lying on the bed with a shotgun between his legs.

“There was blood everywhere,” he said.

Lugo thinks it was a murder suicide: England shot Dunnigan and then turned the gun on himself.

Karen Baird, the apartment’s property manager, said England moved into the complex about six months ago. She said she worked with him after he was hired as an apartment maintenance worker a month and a half ago.

Baird described England as a polite and humble man, like a “southern gentleman.”

However, Baird said that after Dunnigan moved in with him, the couple developed problems.

They fought often, mostly while drunk, Baird said. Dunnigan would take off in his car for days and come back, sometimes with it damaged.

“She always pushed his buttons,” she said, “but he always took her back.”

Landon McBride, England’s next door neighbor, said he was friends with England.

In the mornings, England would make coffee, smoke a cigarette and watch the news. McBride would come over and watch TV with him.

Sometimes they’d talk about England’s father, who died a few months ago, or about England’s relationship.

“He was a kind man,” McBride said. “He was just going through a lot in his life, and I always told him everything would be all right.”

The Monday before Lugo discovered the bodies, England confided in McBride that Dunnigan got her tax return back and was talking about leaving to stay with her mother.

Then McBride didn’t see him for two days.

“Everyone was asking where he was,” he said. “Then they found him dead. It just crushed me. I didn’t think he would do it like that.”

At the complex Saturday afternoon, a cleaning company truck sat parked outside the apartment.

Two men opened a trailer hitched to the truck, pulled out bleach and sponges and carried them into the apartment. The porch light was still on in the daylight.

“I hear he blew her brains out,” a boy said, part of a pack of children lined up outside the trailer watching the cleaning men.

McBride said he is still in shock about his friend’s death.

“It was senseless,” he said.

Despite all of the fighting, Baird believes England had a reason.

“[Dunnigan] said she was going to leave,” Baird said. “I guess he stopped her from leaving.”

Contact Kathryn Varn at kvarn@alligator.org.

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