BALLWIN — A guest at a riverside family campground in eastern Missouri stumbled across the bodies of a mother and her three daughters who had been shot to death in what authorities suspect was a murder-suicide, the resort owner said Monday.
"It was pretty gruesome," said J.R. Isom, the owner of the Blue Springs Ranch & Resort near Bourbon.
Christine Adewunmi, 37, and her daughters 8-year-old Lauren, 6-year-old Samantha and 3-year-old Kate, each died of a single gunshot wound, Crawford County Sheriff Randy Martin said.
Isom said a guest was driving along a remote gravel road on the resort property Saturday afternoon when he saw what appeared to be bodies in the middle of the road. Isom and employees went to the site and found a car parked in the middle of the hilly road. About 100 yards or so farther down the road, the bodies were lying in the gravel, a handgun on the ground nearby.
Isom said the Adewunmis were not guests at the resort, about 80 miles southwest of St. Louis, and apparently came in through a back entrance. The main entrance was closed due to flash flooding after heavy rain Friday.
"At first we thought maybe they got down there and drowned, but then we observed they were shot," Isom said. "The gun was laying there."
The family lived in the well-to-do suburban community of Ballwin in St. Louis County. Leonard Adewunmi, Christine's husband and the father of the girls, had reported them missing at 6 p.m. Friday, county police spokesman Rick Eckhard said.
The case was being investigated as a murder-suicide, and Martin has said no suspects are being sought. He did not immediately return phone messages Monday.
Isom said it wasn't clear why the shooting happened at the resort, a popular camping spot and launching area for float trips. He said resort employees were having a difficult time dealing with the tragedy.
"We feel for the family," he said.
The business networking site LinkedIn lists Leonard Adewunmi as a managing partner of CRI Commercial Properties. Messages left with him on Monday were not returned. It wasn't immediately clear if Christine Adewunmi worked.
Court records did not show any criminal or civil cases involving Christine Adewunmi. Real estate records showed the family home was purchased for $350,000 in October 2001.
Lauren was a second-grader at Oak Brook Elementary School in the Parkway School District, and Samantha was in first grade. School district spokeswoman Cathy Kelly said the school is on spring break this week, but counselors will be on hand when the kids return next Monday.
The school's principal sent an email to parents on Sunday advising them of the deaths, with links to websites to help children deal with tragedy, Kelly said.