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Two dead in domestic homicide in Cheltenham, police say

Two adults are dead following what police are calling a double homicide in Cheltenham that appears to be a domestic incident.

Two adults are dead following a domestic homicide incident in Cheltenham Township Saturday.
Two adults are dead following a domestic homicide incident in Cheltenham Township Saturday.Read moreTOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer

A 57-year-old Cheltenham man shot and killed his wife and mother-in-law Saturday afternoon, authorities said, and has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder.

Frederick J. Clea told police he began arguing with his wife, Latiya Clea, 41, at their home about noon Saturday when he couldn’t find a loaded magazine for his firearm, authorities said.

Clea “ransacked” their bedroom looking for the magazine, then walked downstairs and continued arguing with his wife, who was putting groceries away with her mother, Mekenda Saunders, 75, according to the affidavit of probable cause for his arrest signed by Montgomery County detectives.

Then, Clea told police, he “just started shooting,” the document says. Clea allegedly told authorities he bought the handgun earlier this year.

Police arrived at the Cleas’ home on the 7700 block of Green Valley Road shortly after noon Saturday following a call for a domestic disturbance.

Clea told one of the officers that he had “gone too far” and “shot them,” according to the affidavit.

Two children, ages 10 and 5, were in the home at the time and are now in the care of relatives, officials said. Police had been to the home twice previously for domestic calls, most recently in December, the affidavit said.

“The combination of a recently purchased gun and anger toward his wife and mother-in-law proved deadly,” Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said in a statement Sunday. “Tragically, two young children are now left without parents and a grandparent in their lives, and the defendant faces spending the rest of his life in prison.”

Gregory McDonald of the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office performed autopsies on Sunday and found that Latiya Clea died of multiple gunshot wounds, and Saunders died of a gunshot wound to the chest, authorities said. The manner of death was homicide for both victims, the District Attorney’s Office said.

Frederick Clea was arraigned on charges of first- and third-degree murder and related crimes. He is being held in the Montgomery County Correctional Facility. There is no bail in Pennsylvania for defendants charged with first-degree murder.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 6.

The Montgomery County Detectives Bureau is handling the investigation along with Cheltenham police.