Family members died one-by-one as part of planned suicide, police say

Aimee Ambrose
York Dispatch

The Daub family was found dead from gunshot wounds, lying in a straight line near their back porch the morning of Jan. 25, police said.

They'd killed themselves late the night before, on Jan. 24, as part of a plan that germinated with the daughter, Morgan Daub, and her mother, Deborah Daub. According to new details released Friday, the plan might have been in motion for months. The date of their deaths apparently aligned with a Bible verse.

James Daub, the father, apparently wasn’t ready to die, but ultimately decided to follow his family.

The investigation led by West Manchester Township police concluded Deborah shot and killed James while they were in the backyard that night. Morgan then shot and killed Deborah before fatally shooting herself. Each family member was shot in the back of the head, the department said in a news release Friday.

Their deaths were part of a planned suicide, evidence showed. Investigators found documents written by each family member and suicide letters.

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There were no signs of a struggle, no signs of forced entry into the home and no indications anyone else was there at the time, police said.

A neighbor called police to request a welfare check at the home in the 2000 block of Loman Avenue the morning of the 25th. He told officers he heard three gunshots at close to midnight the night before, spaced out about 10-15 seconds each, police said.

The site of an incident at 2098 Loman Ave. in  West Manchester Twp. on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023.

Two of the shots were muffled. The third one was heard more clearly, police said of the neighbor’s statement.

Deborah said in one of the documents that she and Morgan made a joint decision to end their lives. It was dated Jan. 19, police said.

The note referenced “the evil that has mounted against Morgan and the family,” but she didn’t elaborate on what she meant, according to police.

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In a news release Friday, police said the tone of the letter seemed as if Deborah expected James to live on after she and Morgan died. Investigators noted the letter referenced a similar letter written about nine months earlier.

Police also said, “Additional written documents from Deborah state ‘Samuel 1:24-28 Morgan chose the date! I believe I have to be with her!’”

A screenshot from one of the videos Morgan Daub, 26, posted to YouTube in the year before she and her parents were found shot to death outside their West Manchester Township home.

James was “crushed” when Morgan told them she had to end her life, police said of an undated document he wrote. And as he became aware of his wife's and daughter's wishes:

“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 release states.

Signed suicide notes by James and Deborah said they took their lives of their free will, though they both wrote they were too “shaky” to pull the triggers themselves.

The site of an incident at 2098 Loman Ave. in  West Manchester Twp. on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023.

Police didn’t go into detail in the release about documents Morgan wrote, except to note an extensive checklist was found documenting her steps to prepare for the suicide. Those steps, according to police, included speaking to James, clipping the family dog’s nails and writing letters to other family members.

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West Manchester Township Detective Timothy Fink told The York Dispatch last week that the dog was sedated by the family so it wouldn’t pose a threat to first responders.

Investigators compared the documents to other written documents in the home as well as at least one seen on social media, and they said the writing and signatures appeared to be consistent between the samples.

Copies of living and last wills were also found, which included instructions on how to dispose of the family’s assets, where to find key documents and keys, and care instructions for the dog.

When investigators processed the shooting scene, they found the bodies were arranged in a straight line a few feet from the back porch and extended south.

Morgan was closest to the porch and found lying on her back, wearing a black pistol holster on her right hip as well as ear protection, police said.

The holster was empty. Two shell casings and one of the two handguns at the scene were found next to her body, police said.

Deborah was also found lying face-up and wearing a holster. The second gun, a shell casing and ear protection were found near her body, police said.

James was found on his stomach.

Police earlier said mental illness issues were involved in the situation. They said one document showed Morgan had told her mother she was having auditory hallucinations that weren’t getting better.

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Morgan had posted three YouTube videos to an account since last September. She spoke in two of them with statements that indicated paranoia and dissociation from reality. The third was a short, written message that said, “Follow me as I follow Christ.”

As a child and young adult, Morgan was an avid bowler who competed in youth and adult leagues, including a doubles league with her mother.

Morgan Daub poses and smiles for a photo congratulating her on bowling a 300 at Suburban Bowlerama in November 2017.

A woman who knew her said she was one of the area’s top women bowlers in the 2018-2019 season. She had also bowled two perfect 300-score games in 2017 and 2018.

On the shooting, police said the investigation is now closed.

If you've experienced thoughts of suicide, confidential help is available for free through the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by calling 988 in the United States. You can find more information at 988lifeline.org.

— Reach Aimee Ambrose at aambrose@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @aimee_TYD.