Authorities are investigating what they say is the apparent murder-suicide of a Dawson County couple over the weekend.
The bodies of Donnie and Jacqueline Johnson, both 62, were found Saturday night by a neighbor who stopped by their New Bethel Church Road home to check on them.
Dawson County Sheriff’s Maj. John Cagle said investigators suspect Donnie Johnson shot his wife in the chest while she was in bed and then turned the rifle on himself.
He said the shootings occurred sometime between 10:30 p.m. Friday and 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Authorities have ruled out foul play.
“It is our understanding they both had some serious health issues going on and he was depressed about his and her health,” Cagle said.
Investigators were called to the scene Saturday just hours after responding to a similar report on Fairfax Court.
A 45-year-old man, who Cagle said also suffered from depression, was pronounced dead at the scene from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The three bodies were taken to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation crime lab in Atlanta for autopsies, the results of which likely won’t be known for days.
Cagle said the unrelated weekend deaths mark the fourth fatal shooting investigators have worked in the last three weeks.
On Jan. 29, a 51-year-old Amicalola Way resident is believed to have taken his own life.
Jacqueline Johnson’s death is the first slaying in Dawson County since December 2009, when Paul and Jennifer Budrawich’s bodies were pulled from the Amicalola River.
Jennifer Budrawich’s stepfather, Jesse James Kilgore, pleaded guilty to the slayings.
Another relative, Benjamin Kelly Mullinax, also admitted his role in their deaths.
Kilgore was sentenced to life without parole. Mullinax received two consecutive life sentences with the possibility of parole after 30 years.