MURDER USA: Three Dead in Murder-Suicide in Pocomoke City; ghastly scene revealed by odor of rotting bodies

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Maryland State Police News Beat

MURDER USA: Three Dead in Murder-Suicide in Pocomoke City

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Pocomoke City, Md. – Maryland State Police Sgt. DaVaughn Parker reports that homicide investigators are investigating an apparent double murder and suicide of three people found dead in a Worcester County home early on Sept. 12, 2016.

The victims were identified as Marvin Wilmer Purnell, 78, and Karen E. Purnell, 53, of 2242 Groton Road, Pocomoke City, Md.  Both of the victims’ bodies will be transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore for an autopsy.  Investigators anticipate the autopsy will verify the cause and manner of death.

The killer was identified by police as Marvin Desmond Purnell, 46, of the same address. He was pronounced deceased at the scene.  Marvin Desmond Purnell had been charged with distribution of cocaine in a Worcester County Circuit Court Indictment on Sept. 26, 2006.  In a plea deal on May 1, 2007, Purnell was sentenced to two years in prison with all but ten days suspended on a possession charge with the drug dealing charge put on the Stet Docket, the jail time served on weekends and two years of supervised probation.

MURDER USAShortly after 10:30 a.m. on Sept. 12, 2016, deputies from the Worcester Sheriff’s Department responded to a call to the Purnell residence to check on the welfare of Karen.  Karen’s friend had not heard from her for some time and physically responded to the Purnell residence. Karen’s friend contacted the Worcester Sherriff’s Department after receiving no answer and smelling a very strong disturbing odor coming from the residence.

When deputies arrived at the home, they found it to be secure from the outside, with no signs of forced entry. Deputies attempted to make contact with someone inside the residence. As deputies continued attempts to make contact they heard the voice of a male. Deputies asked the male to open the door and the male failed to comply with commands to open the door.

Deputies were able to retrieve a key to the Purnell residence and gained access. Deputies found two decomposing bodies, later identified as Marvin Wilmer Purnell. and Karen Purnell, lying on the kitchen floor and a third body in the hallway opposite the kitchen, later identified as Marvin Desmond Purnell. After observing the three bodies, deputies exited the home for safety and to set up a perimeter.

Deputies attempted to contact Marvin Desmond by cell phone and loud speaker.  The efforts continued for approximately one hour. Deputies deployed a CS gas canister through a window located on the west end of the residence in an attempt to force any occupant out of the residence. As a result of the CS canister being deployed, a fire ignited in the residence. The Pocomoke Fire Department responded to the scene to extinguish the fire.

Deputies and firefighters entered the residence and extricated the body of Marvin Desmond Purnell.  A rifle was located beneath his body. Examination of Marvin Desmond Purnell revealed what appeared to be a single gunshot wound.  The Maryland State Police Homicide Unit was requested to respond and take the lead on this investigation. Additional assistance is being provided by Maryland State Police Criminal Enforcement Division investigators and the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office.

Investigators have been interviewing witnesses and residents in the area throughout the day.  Crime scene evidence has been transported to the State Police Forensic Sciences Division crime laboratory for analysis. State Police crime scene technicians processed the scene.

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