A Carroll County man shot himself to death Tuesday night after critically wounding his live-in girlfriend, who is the mother of his 14-month-old son, Maryland State Police said yesterday.
Scott Gordon Hill, 40, of the 5500 block of Taneytown Pike was pronounced dead at his home by the state medical examiner after police found Teresa Lynn Hughes, 38, slumped on the kitchen floor, bleeding from gunshot wounds to her upper body and face. Troopers said they discovered the couple's son in an adjacent room, unharmed.
Authorities said a man later identified as Hill called 911 about 8:30 p.m. and hung up abruptly after he told Carroll County dispatchers that he had shot his girlfriend.
Troopers traced the call to a two-story, brick house on Route 140 West on the outskirts of Taneytown. State police, paramedics, the Special Tactical Assault Team Element and the Hostage Recovery Team arrived shortly afterward.
Police said they were unsuccessful in making contact with anyone in the house.
Shortly before 11 p.m., the Westminster barracks received another 911 call from the house. Police said they later identified the caller as Hughes, who told dispatchers that Hill was dead and that she needed help.
The STATE team moved into the house and found Hill on the floor in a rear room, with a 12-gauge shotgun at his feet, police said.
Sgt. Thornnie Rouse, a state police spokesman, said Hill had apparently shot himself in the head.
Once they were in the home, police said they heard Hughes yelling for help. They found her on the kitchen floor, slumped against a wall with the phone dropped at her side.
She was flown to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where she was listed in critical condition last night.
Troopers found the toddler crying in an adjacent room. Hill's family members said he was safe in the care of his maternal grandparents.
Gathered yesterday at Hill's home, his family members were left wondering what happened.
"We're a very close family. We're all in shock and angry," said Theo Hill, 49, the eldest of Hill's surviving two brothers and four sisters. "I can't fathom him doing what he did. We're looking for answers, too."
Theo Hill of Bethlehem, Pa., stood in the driveway of his brother's house and shook his head.
"This shouldn't have happened. He had numerous family he could have talked to," he said. Several family members were at the house and the one adjacent to it, comforting one another. "Terry [Hughes] was an innocent. I have to forgive him for that, but I can't do it yet."
Scott Hill's other brother, Craig Hill of Gettysburg - the family's hometown - said he had just talked to his brother on Saturday.
"Everything seemed all right," he said. "We're numb now, trying to piece this together, clean things up. Something snapped."
Craig Hill said Scott Hill, a Gettysburg High School graduate, had served a four-year stint in the Army in the tank corps. He said his brother had been with Hughes about five years.
The couple had domestic trouble in June, when state police arrested Scott Hill on second-degree assault and drug charges, according to court records.
Hughes told the arresting officer that she had been with her son, talking with neighbors at a nearby house, on the evening of June 12 when Hill came over and began arguing with her, according to court documents. According to the documents, a trooper observed that Hughes seemed intoxicated.
When Hill took their son and insisted Hughes return immediately to their home, she paused and evaded Hill, who grabbed her T-shirt and tried to pull her toward the house, records showed.
The neighbors called 911, records showed. Charging documents showed that troopers found Hughes lying in the driveway at 11:10 that night. Hughes told police that Hill had punched her in the ribs and dragged her by her arms and legs back to the house.
State police arrested Hill and also charged him with drug possession after finding a metal pipe with cocaine residue in his pants pocket, court records stated.
Hill was released on a $7,500 bond. At his Aug. 26 trial in Carroll County District Court, Judge Marc G. Rasinsky gave him probation before judgment on the assault charge and dismissed the other charges. Hill was serving one year of supervised probation, records showed.
Hill had a previous run-in with authorities in Carroll County in November 2003, when he was arrested as a fugitive from justice on drug charges that originated in Gettysburg, according to court documents.
Hill's family said Christmas would be somber this year.
"We were getting ready to take a family portrait," Craig Hill said. "But now instead of Santa Claus suits, we'll be dressed in black suits."