Priest Dies in Murder-Suicide

New Mexican
May 13, 1979

LITTLETON, N.H. CAP) - Funeral services were scheduled Tuesday for a priest who was killed by a former mental patient declared no longer dangerous and his wife, who then turned their guns on themselves.

Peter Linsley, 35, and Jane Linsley, 28, both of Concord, committed suicide after taking the Rev. Joseph John Sands hostage on Friday and shooting him in the head and stomach, police said.

They were armed with .357-caliber Magnums and claimed to be "king and queen of the church."

They died in the rectory of St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church in this northern New Hampshire community of about 5,400 people.

Sands, 46, director of a home for troubled boys, was called to the church when the couple arrived shortly after noon demanding to see a priest. The regular pastor, the Rev. Stephen Scruton, was vacationing.

Assistant Attorney General Anne Cagwin said that during five hours of negotiations, the couple's only demands were for cigarettes, which were supplied.

Police said the couple had been in New Hampshire two years. Linsley's neighbors in a trailer park said they knew nothing about the couple.

Police said Linsley was committed to the state mental hospital in Concord after pleading innocent by reason of insanity to aggravated assault against a policeman in July 1977. He was released in May 1978 when declared no longer dangerous.

Benton Lyons, 47, said Sands saved the lives of his wife, Patricia, and their son, Mike, 20, who were working at the rectory when the Linsleys barged in.

Mrs. Lyons fled when she was sent to fetch a dog from the Linsleys' car, and the son jumped from a second story window to a porch roof.

Lyons said Sands told his son that "if you want to get out alive, get out quick.


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