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Police identify Babler State Park Murder-Suicide victims

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WILDWOOD, MO (KTVI)-- There is more information surfacing about the father and son found dead in Babler State park, but the one question still not answered is why the apparent murder-suicide happened at all.

Police have identified the victims as Douglas Potter, 57 and Joseph Potter, 20.

Their bodies were found shortly after 5:00 p.m. Tuesday in Babler State Park in Wildwood.   Police believe the father shot his son and then shot himself.

"There`s a small walking bridge nearby and they were laying right there," said St. Louis County Police officer Brian Schellman.

The crime scene is just minutes from both the Potter family home and Lafayette High School where the young victim was still taking classes. School officials wouldn't say why he might still be in high school. The family had relocated to Wildwood from Plano, Texas a little less than a year ago.

“What I can tell you about Joseph from talking to some of his teachers is that he was a happy student who enjoyed coming to school and really enjoyed music and dancing,” Rockwood district spokesperson Kim Cranston said in an interview Wednesday.

Though Joseph had not been in the school long, steps were being taken by the district to help any students or staff having a tough time coping with the reality of a classmate being murdered.

“The death of a student is always devastating,” Cranston said.  “And what we try to do is be sensitive to our students, be respectful of the family, and share the appropriate  information.  And that’s what we did today.  The principal met with teachers and he sent out a communication to parents and they’re sharing the information with parents as is appropriate.”

Fox 2 spoke briefly with another son of Doug Potter’s.  Sam Potter, when asked if he could shed any light on what might have led to the shooting, said it was a private family matter.

He said the family had no comment, but he did make one statement.

“My father was a good man,” he said.

The investigation took place as 6th grade campers from the Rockwood School District were inside a different part of the park.  School officials sent this letter to parents as soon as police notified the district about the situation.

Rockwood officials said they worked with police to determine what the safest course of action for students was.

"They assured us that we needed to leave our kids in camp," said Jim Wipke, Rockwoods director of secondary education.  "With their investigation they did not want people going in and out."

Wipke said students were not informed about what happened so they could continue to enjoy their camp experience.    Police had not confirmed at the scene whether a gun was recovered.


  • morrow

    One killed the other and them himself . how sad something can get that bad between love ones to a point where one kills the other and them himself. I pray that my mind doesn’t get out of wack like that because that is some mental stuff.

    • David

      Douglas made a bad choice by shooting his son and then himself. As a family member i wish i could have talked to him about what was going on in his life. This is a very sad time.

  • Matthew

    This is truly a tragedy. My nephew committed suicide a little over a year ago after a long battle with drugs. In these types of cases, I always wonder what people are thinking: how death is even considered a solution.

  • Stuntman Mike

    The police statements during this thing were ludicrous. First they said “they can’t confirm its a murder-suicide, but we can assure everyone we are not looking for anyone else”. Well, if you are not sure its a murder-suicide, you better be looking for someone else. Then they say they can’t confirm whether a gun was recovered. Well, I hope they found a gun at the scene, because if they didn’t find a weapon right there, it wasn’t a murder-suicide. Ludicrous.

    • Greg

      Not so ludicrous. They could have been struggling with each other. Person A could have shot person B, fatally wounding him, after which they fought, person B was able to get the gun away and fatally shoot person A, then succumb to his wounds.

    • liddlebitz

      Did you ever think maybe they were trying to determine if they had both committed suicide? You’re nothing but a Monday morning quaterback…

      • Mr Popularity

        If they thought there was a possibility of a double suicide then there would also have to be a possibility of a double homicide, meaning their comments that they weren’t looking for anyone else would be even more questionable.

  • Sue

    Doug Potter was a very good man and he loved his son very much. I wish he had let us know he needed help. There are many, many people in Plano who would have helped him in a heartbeat. You will be missed, Doug. We still love you and pray for you.

  • Stuntman Mike

    This is the second story on this case, and more than 24 hours later, the police STILL can’t confirm whether a gun was found, but believe the father shot the son and then himself??? Seriously, they can’t find the gun after a murder-suicide? Who’s working this case, the Keystone Cops?

  • Shela

    This is so sad, the devil will try and trick you into thinking your life is over but I promise you it’s not Death by suicide is never the answer when God is ready to for you to leave this earth he will take you! God has a plan don’t be fooled by the foolishness!
    Please reach out to someone, to get a better understanding that our this too will pass, just keep it moving re group life happens, not always the way we want it to? But suicide is not the answer!
    Suicide hurts family ,friends, neighbors! Don”t be FOOLED by the enemy! We can get through anything, just talk about it. I promise your not alone.

    • GP Mimi 2

      The mother is one of the most loving and caring people on the face of the earth. She loved this son and took great care of him. Everyone in the DFW area that knew this family, loved them and would do anything for them. We are all heartbroken over what has happened. Do not blame in this matter anyone, especially the mother.

  • Diane

    Maybe the son was a special ed student and the father was not thinking rationally and thought death was better. I think when you are in that frame of mind you are only seeking the quickest relief and you are not thinking straight. I have been that depressed before but not enough to kill someone.

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