A devout Christian family of three found shot to death in their Pennsylvania backyard last week took turns killing one another as part of a murder-suicide pact they made months earlier, police said Friday.
Morgan Daub, 26, and her parents, James Daub, 62, and Deborah Daub, 59, left detailed notes explaining they made the “joint decision” to end their lives together on Jan. 24 after Morgan told her parents she wished to commit suicide, the West Manchester Township Police Department said in a release.
Police discovered the trio’s bodies at their York home the morning of Jan. 25 while responding to a welfare check. A neighbor told police he heard three shots ring off in quick succession just before midnight.
The family left several written documents detailing their journey dating back at least nine months, cops said.
According to papers written by Deborah, she and Morgan had originally planned to kill themselves together and leave James behind. In an April 2022 note, she writes that Morgan chose their execution date based on a bible verse in which two parents give their child back to God.
“Samuel 1:24-28 Morgan chose the date! I believe I have to be with her!” Deborah wrote.
Deborah also wrote about the “evil” Morgan and the family faces, but police said she didn’t go into great detail.
“The rest of the letter seems to be directed to or about God and to her husband, James Daub. The letter reads as if she expects James to survive them after their passing,” police said.
According to a letter left by James, he was not originally part of the pact but opted to join after hearing that his wife and daughter were planning to leave him.
“[H]e was crushed when Morgan told ‘us’ that she must end her life,” police said of his letter.
“In the early parts of the letter James says that he is not ready to end his life but by the end of the letter it is evident that he had then decided to do so.”
The family left additional notes admitting that they died at one another’s hands.
“with only 2 guns & me being shaky, my wife Debbie pulled the trigger for me,” James wrote.
“I was too shaky, so my daughter pulled the trigger for me,” Deborah wrote.
Morgan, who was found wearing earmuffs, did not leave a note, but police determined she shot herself.
Their bodies were found with gunshot wounds to the head and were “arranged in a straight line starting just a few feet from the porch and extending south.”
Police recovered an extensive checklist Morgan made that contained preparatory steps before ending her life, including speaking to her father, clipping the dog’s nails, letters to family, etc. They also left instructions for their living family, including instructions for the care of their dog.
The murder-suicide rocked the community, who knew the family as quiet, but devout Christians.
Neighbors described Morgan as a reserved girl who loved bowling with her mother.
The Daubs were “never shy about letting anybody know what their beliefs were” when it came to religion and politics, Bret Stabley, who operates the pro shop at Bowlers Supply in the town, told NBC News.
Another neighbor considered their beliefs a “preoccupation.”