Michigan State Police investigating apparent murder-suicide in Van Buren County

(Stephen DeLadurantaye)
Published: Feb. 2, 2023 at 12:38 PM EST
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VAN BUREN COUNTY, Mich. (WNDU) - Michigan State Police are currently investigating an apparent murder-suicide in Van Buren County.

Troopers were called to the 38000 block of 82nd Avenue in Decatur Township on Jan. 27 around 9:30 p.m. after receiving two separate 911 calls informing them that a murder-suicide was going to take place there.

When troopers arrived, they forced their way into the home and found two dead people, a man and a woman, on the kitchen floor with apparent gunshot wounds. Police identified them as Wayne Westphal, 49, and Tara Phillips, 34, both of Decatur.

Police later found a gun underneath Westphal.

While investigating, police learned that Westphal and Phillips had previously been in a relationship and had lived together. Court records revealed a valid no contact order on file between them, with Phillips as the protected party. They also learned there was a history of domestic violence between the couple.

Police say Westphal was one of the 911 callers who called to report a murder-suicide. One of Phillips’ relatives, who asked not to be identified, was the other caller. Phillips called this relative prior to the incident to inform them of what was happening.

According to police, initial evidence at the scene and follow-up investigations continue to indicate this was an apparent murder-suicide. There are no suspects at large and no danger to the public.

If you are in danger or are a victim of domestic assault, you can receive help by calling 911 or the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224.

This incident remains open pending autopsy results, toxicology analysis, and further investigation.

Troopers were assisted at the scene by Decatur and Lawton Police Departments.

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