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Gun used in suicide connected with Dwight double-homicide

Published: Monday, Aug. 11, 2014 2:19 p.m. CST • Updated: Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014 12:53 p.m. CST
(Brian Stanley – bstanley@shawmedia.com)
Dwight homicide victims Donna J. Denker, 60, and her daughter Kelli L. Denker, 30, were killed June 14 in their home and autopsies showed they died from gunshot wounds. Police have confirmed the weapon Joseph Sipple used to kill himself in Sheridan recently is the same weapon used to kill the two Dwight women.
Kelli Denker
Donna Denker

DWIGHT – Police said Monday the gun a man used to kill himself recently in Sheridan is the same weapon used 12 days earlier in the shooting deaths of two Dwight women.

Morris resident Joseph R. Sipple, 27, shot himself June 26 in Sheridan while under a police investigation on charges of possession of stolen property. Sipple shot and killed himself during a confrontation with sheriff’s deputies.

The weapon – a .40 caliber Glock handgun – was also used to kill Donna J. Denker, 60, and her daughter Kelli L. Denker, 30, June 14 in their home, Dwight Police Chief Tim Henson said Monday. Autopsies showed the two women died from gunshot wounds.

The weapon was recovered at the scene where Sipple took his life. The gun came from a Morris home police allege Sipple burglarized in May.

When asked whether Monday's confirmation that the same gun was used in both Sipple's suicide and the double murder points to Sipple as the person responsible, Henson said police are "not to that point" in the investigation.

Ties to Morris burglary

In early May, Morris police responded to a call of a residential burglary on Jodi Court. Officers discovered firearms, jewelry, clothing and electronic goods were stolen, Morris Police Chief Brent Dite said Monday.

Morris police called in the Illinois State Police Crime Scene Investigation Unit to help process the scene. "During the investigation, Joseph Sipple was identified as a person of interest in the investigation through a number of sources," Dite said.

Morris worked with the Grundy County Sheriff's Department, the LaSalle County Sheriff's Department, Dwight and state police to obtain a search warrant for where Sipple was staying in Sheridan, Dite said. The warrant was executed June 25.

The investigation has also shown Sipple was involved in a residential burglary of the Denker house in Dwight in August 2013. In that incident, a large sum of money was taken from the home, but no one was injured and no weapons were used, Henson said Monday.

Sipple was a former acquaintance of Kelli Denker, police confirmed last month.

The case remains under investigation by Dwight and state police. Items of evidence have been submitted to the Illinois State Police's crime lab for testing, Henson said, but he declined to go into further detail due to the "sensitivity of the case."

“I will continue my promise that as soon as we have more details we can release, we will,” said Henson, who said he has remained in contact daily with the victims' families.

Another man, who has yet to be identified, was shot during the June 14 killings but survived. The man provided emergency medical personnel a description of the shooter at the time of the murders but "did not know the shooter," Henson said. The man was initially hospitalized but has since been released and is in good health.

Illinois State Police Spokeswoman Monique Bond could not be reached for comment Monday.

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