WYNCOTE, Pa. (CBS) — A man has been arrested after authorities say he shot and killed his wife and mother-in-law Saturday afternoon in Cheltenham Township. The Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office announced murder charges against 57-year-old Frederick Clea on Sunday.
Dispatch received a 911 call just after 12 p.m. Saturday in which gunshots could be heard on the open line.
Court documents reveal when officers arrived at the family home on the 7700 block of Green Valley Road, Clea opened the door and told them he “went too far.”
Officers found Clea’s wife, 41-year-old Latiya Clea, and his mother-in-law, 74-year-old Mekenda Saunders, inside the home dead from apparent gunshot wounds, according to authorities. Officials say an autopsy revealed that Latiya Clea suffered five gunshot wounds and Saunders was shot once to her chest.
“I just can’t, I don’t believe, I don’t understand,” said Joseph Saunders, the brother and son of the victims. “And now it’s just me left. My brother’s gone and now my sister’s gone. Our father been gone and now my mother’s gone.”
The criminal complaint against Clea says he admitted to responding officers that he shot his wife and mother-in-law in their living room after arguing with his wife over a misplaced magazine to his handgun.
The couple’s two children — ages 5 and 10 — were home but not hurt.
“The combination of a recently purchased gun and anger toward his wife and mother-in-law proved deadly,” Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steel said in a statement. “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.”
Neighbors say they didn’t know the couple well but are in disbelief over the tragedy.
“I looked over and I saw all this yellow tape and found out that him, two homicide. That was totally unexpected,” Dr. Craig Browne said.
Saunders says he wasn’t a fan of his brother-in-law but had no idea of any trouble in his sister’s marriage.
Records show Cheltenham police previously responded to the home in December 2017 and December 2019 for domestic incidents between the couple. Saunders’ mother lived with them.
“My mother asked me the other day for my social security number. And I’m like, ‘Mom, for what?’ So now, I think this was it, she must have knew this was coming down the line,” he said.
Clea is facing murder and related charges. He’s been remanded to the Montgomery County Correctional Facility, and his preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 6.
CBS3’s Trang Do contributed to this report.