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Breaking news - host family murder-suicide

mdchachi

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This could be a first. Host family dies while exchange student in the home. You might see this news item show up in Japan. The incident just occurred yesterday. Thankfully the student is all right; I hope she can recover from the stress, ptsd, etc.

ORION TOWNSHIP, Mich. - A man and woman were found shot to death Friday in what appears to be a murder-suicide inside an Orion Township home, according to the Oakland County Sheriff's Office.
Deputies went to the home to conduct a welfare check. Both victims were found dead with apparent gunshot wounds.
Deputies also found a 17-year-old exchange student from Japan in the home. She was not injured. She told investigators she heard the couple -- a 57-year-old man and a 56-year-old woman -- arguing late Thursday evening, which has happened before.
The Sheriff's Office said it appears a "domestic situation" escalated to a possible murder-suicide.
The Medical Examiner's Office will conduct autopsies while this remains under investigation.


This article has some more details. It was the student who saw the bodies and called the police. :eek:
Officials: Murder-suicide investigation underway after couple found dead
 
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thomas

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Took me a while to understand what a "welfare check" was. Tragic incident and perhaps not a good idea to let innocent exchange students stay in gun-owning homes.
 

mdchachi

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Took me a while to understand what a "welfare check" was. Tragic incident and perhaps not a good idea to let innocent exchange students stay in gun-owning homes.
I don't even think it really was a welfare check which is when you call the police to check on somebody. Like if they don't show up to work for three days. In this case I think the girl was in the home and discovered the bodies. Or at least heard the shots and called 911.
 

mdchachi

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Took me a while to understand what a "welfare check" was. Tragic incident and perhaps not a good idea to let innocent exchange students stay in gun-owning homes.
As Roland mentioned that is not a very realistic option in the U.S. And anyway guns have not shown themselves to have caused many problems in exchange-student households as far as I'm aware.
 

Uncle Frank

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My home usually has 10 to 20 guns in it. I hosted students for about 5 years with no problem. For many years ,the university here has hosted Japanese students , and in Maine , most homes have at least 1 or 2 guns. As long as good safety practices are followed , there should never be a problem.
 
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I currently own over twenty firearms. They're kept locked in a steel safe when not in use, except for a couple I keep stashed for home defense. None have been known to get loose and go on a killing rampage.

I don't wish to appear paranoid, but break-ins of occupied dwellings do occasionally happen here. If that occurs, Alaskans are legally entitled to shoot, stab, or use a ball-bat on an intruder, since the fact that the intruder would break into an occupied dwelling demonstrates an intent to harm the occupants.

If I was hosting an exchange student, I'd put the stashed guns back in the safe, unless he or she showed an interest in learning the rules of gun safety. The risk of a young or ignorant person finding a gun and shooting himself or someone else is probably greater than a break-in of an occupied home. In my younger college days, I was known to take Japanese exchange students out to the range, mostly to shoot .22 handguns. These days I'd wonder if I need parental permission to do such things as shooting or driving a car.
 

madphysicist

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I currently own over twenty firearms. They're kept locked in a steel safe when not in use, except for a couple I keep stashed for home defense. None have been known to get loose and go on a killing rampage.

I don't wish to appear paranoid, but break-ins of occupied dwellings do occasionally happen here. If that occurs, Alaskans are legally entitled to shoot, stab, or use a ball-bat on an intruder, since the fact that the intruder would break into an occupied dwelling demonstrates an intent to harm the occupants.

If I was hosting an exchange student, I'd put the stashed guns back in the safe, unless he or she showed an interest in learning the rules of gun safety. The risk of a young or ignorant person finding a gun and shooting himself or someone else is probably greater than a break-in of an occupied home. In my younger college days, I was known to take Japanese exchange students out to the range, mostly to shoot .22 handguns. These days I'd wonder if I need parental permission to do such things as shooting or driving a car.

If I had a child I would absolutely not want you taking them shooting or letting them anywhere near a gun unless you are a qualified safety instructor and in a controlled environment. In general I would not be comfortable letting my child stay at a home with guns in, even if it made it harder to find a host. Why? Not because I'm against people owning guns in principle (I am, but that's not the point here). It's more that I don't know the host family personally, I don't know if they are responsible and careful people, and given the current number of accidental gun deaths in the US I wouldn't want to take my chances.

I think at least it's fair to warn parents from another culture if the home their kid will be staying in has guns. When I was an exchange student we could choose a smoking/non-smoking household and whether the family had pets. It didn't make it that hard to find a placement despite the substantial number of people who have pets and/or smoke.

Regarding this story, I really hope the poor exchange student gets some proper counselling. Dealing with that kind of traumatic event at 17 has to be terrible enough, but in a foreign country with little immediate support network must make it so much harder.
 

thomas

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I don't want to engage in a gun debate; also I'm quite convinced that all gun owners in this thread handle their weaponry responsibly.

However, people in the US need to understand that the concept of private gun ownership is alien to most Europeans, and even more so, to the Japanese. Most Europeans/Japanese do not see any correlation between liberty and the right to possess arms. I don't know anyone in my family or among my friends or acquaintances who owns a gun, most people haven't even touched one. I have only ever used a rifle during my year of compulsory military service (a Steyr AUG-1, for the gun aficionados).

I am grateful to live in a society that shuns weapons. And just like @madphysicist, I'd be more than wary to send my children to a gun-owning home, no matter how safe those guns are locked away. Giving parents at least the choice to select a gun-free host family sounds like a reasonable request.
 
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It hadn't occurred to me that Japanese parents would want to know if guns are in the house, any more than if automobiles (which cause more accidental deaths than guns) are at the home.

But of course parents have the right to know about whatever they think would be of concern. I would recommend asking American host families if there are guns in the home, if it's a concern. Remember, though, gun accidents are rare enough to make headline news when they occur. Unlike mundane traffic fatalities.
 

madphysicist

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It hadn't occurred to me that Japanese parents would want to know if guns are in the house, any more than if automobiles (which cause more accidental deaths than guns) are at the home.

But of course parents have the right to know about whatever they think would be of concern. I would recommend asking American host families if there are guns in the home, if it's a concern. Remember, though, gun accidents are rare enough to make headline news when they occur. Unlike mundane traffic fatalities.

I am not really interested in a gun control debate either, but the way you're phrasing this makes it sound like you think parents would be stupid to worry about guns in the house. Please be aware that like @thomas said there is a strong cultural difference at work.

There's no reason that any normal person in the UK would use a gun except for target practice, and then you would go to a range where there are qualified safety instructors. I have done this a fair few times, and it's fun, but we don't see any reason to have a gun in our homes.

To the minds of most Europeans, cars serve a practical purpose of getting from A to B when there is no public transport available, and hence are worth incurring a risk for a substantial benefit. We do not see a gun as serving any practical purpose outside target shooting, and hence the risk:benefit ratio is infinite. To us your comparison is nonsensical.
 
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And please be aware of the other side of the cultural difference. I use guns for target shooting, hunting our meat, and self-defense. Guns are important tools and weapons to me. "Stupid" is your word, not mine. I implied no such thing. I was talking about what would have occurred to me. It simply would not have occurred to me to either volunteer or conceal the information that there are guns in the house.

How do I get past the fact I wouldn't volunteer to a Japanese (and I'm talking about Japanese, not European) family that I have guns in the house? I would be far more likely to ask for permission to take road trips. So I don't believe the comparison is either nonsensical or inapt.

Now I know better. Now I realize that if we ever act as a host family (and we've thought of it) to a Japanese (not meaning European) student, we should probably disclose to his parents that we have guns in the house.

Why am "I" even in the discussion? In many ways, I'm a typical American gun-owner. We wouldn't necessarily recognize that someone would be so afraid of guns that they wouldn't even stay in the same house where guns are kept.

Japanese (not European) families should realize that if the host family is American, there may be a one in three chance that guns will be kept in the home. if the information is important, reasonable minds will inquire.
 

madphysicist

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@RolandtheHeadless
In the case of ideas about guns and gun control policy, Japanese and Europeans are more or less agreed, so I don't really understand the point in your distinction. I am also aware that many Americans give hunting or self-defense as reasons for owning guns; I'm not criticising your ownership or your reasons for it. But to imply that parents should be more wary about the host owning cars than guns because of the relative death rates is an argument which holds no weight for us and which you repeated twice, and that is what I took issue with.

The only reason I lead the discussion towards your stance in particular is that I was honestly shocked you would give access to a gun to a minor under any circumstances without asking the permission of the parents. Yes, perhaps I need to be more aware of this on any future trips I or my family make to the US if this is considered a normal thing to do there.

Anyway I hope people on both sides reading this thread will consider differences in attitude if they are planning a homestay. If the parent and kid know beforehand the home has guns / that the host might take the kid out shooting and they are both fine with it, then it's really none of my business.
 

Mike Cash

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You know, the gun was just a modality in this case. The absence of a gun in the home would have in no way precluded the murder suicide; there are oodles of ways to do it without a gun. The presence of a gun in the home is no reliable indicator that a murder-suicide is going to take place in the home.

This would have been less traumatic or objectionable if the husband had cut the wife's throat and hanged himself from the rafters? Students' parents should be warned that households have kitchen knives and rope?

The students who have come to grief while studying in America have typically done so at the hands of others, not their host families. You can vet the prospective host family and their home environment six ways to Sunday but all the students have to do is take one step outside that house and all bets are off. So the host family doesn't have guns? What if the neighbors on both sides do? Or the guy who robs/mugs/carjacks them does? The only surefire way to excuse yourself from the proximity of firearms in America is simply to stay your butt out of America. There is no other way. When you enter that country, you accept that at some points in time and situations entirely unknown to you there WILL be firearms much closer to you than you would like or even be aware of.

Certainly, parents should be made aware of the presence or absence of firearms in a potential host family's home. But I hope they won't be naive enough to think that absence of guns will insulate their children from harm, guns, or being harmed by a gun. After all, this particular student was not physically harmed by the gun in the home...while poor Hattori-kun was killed by a total stranger at a house he had never been to before.

I come from a gun-owning family and background, but the near total absence of guns in Japan is one of the things I like very much about living here. Guns won't be disappearing from the American landscape any time soon....if ever.
 

madphysicist

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This would have been less traumatic or objectionable if the husband had cut the wife's throat and hanged himself from the rafters? Students' parents should be warned that households have kitchen knives and rope?

[...]

Certainly, parents should be made aware of the presence or absence of firearms in a potential host family's home. But I hope they won't be naive enough to think that absence of guns will insulate their children from harm, guns, or being harmed by a gun. After all, this particular student was not physically harmed by the gun in the home...while poor Hattori-kun was killed by a total stranger at a house he had never been to before.

...so do you think they should be warned or not? It seems like you're contradicting yourself here.

No, you can't wrap your child in cotton wool and protect them from all potential risks. I also don't want to start victim-blaming someone by implying that they didn't vet the situation well enough beforehand. But since the discussion tended that way, I think that warning parents beforehand about it seems a good compromise. The host can just tick a box on a form, allowing the parents to make a decision (indeed the presence of the box may be enough to indicate the difference in culture).
 

Mike Cash

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...so do you think they should be warned or not? It seems like you're contradicting yourself here.

I said:

Certainly, parents should be made aware of the presence or absence of firearms in a potential host family's home. But I hope they won't be naive enough to think that absence of guns will insulate their children from harm, guns, or being harmed by a gun.

That is clearly worded.

No, you can't wrap your child in cotton wool and protect them from all potential risks. I also don't want to start victim-blaming someone by implying that they didn't vet the situation well enough beforehand. But since the discussion tended that way, I think that warning parents beforehand about it seems a good compromise.

By all means, provide the information. No harm in knowing and being able to make an informed principled choice to avoid a particular home on any basis whatsoever. But it is strictly a feel-good meaningless bit of information with no firm link to whether a person will or will not be at an increased or decreased risk of interpersonal violence. A gun in the house is no more an indicator that the student will get shot than the absence of a gun in the house is an indicator the student won't get shot. Again, let's not overlook the very simple and unavoidable fact that despite the presence not only of a gun and a murderous and suicidal individual in the home.... the student was not shot, and apparently not even there when it happened. Then there's Hattori-kun who got killed by a gun away from his host family's home.

In the end, making a decision about whether to let one's child stay in a particular home or not based on the presence or absence of guns can only be based on one's individual principles regarding private gun ownership; as a determining factor in making a decision regarding the level of safety during the overall course of the stay it would be silly to imagine that "guns = will get shot" and "no guns = will not get shot". Given the extreme prevalence of guns in America I can't imagine how anyone could think anything short of just not going there to begin with is going to inoculate them from the possibility of gun violence, or even meaningfully reduce their risk.
 

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A car being the tool which gets one from point A to point B is no different than a gun being a tool which gets one from hungry to full.

For both there are alternatives, and for both there are good reasons to choose the gun/car or the alternative.

Regardless, if a person doesn't want their child exposed to guns and/or cars they should have that option.
 

madphysicist

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@Mike Cash
From your sarcasm in the "Students' parents should be warned that households have kitchen knives and rope?" sentence I wasn't clear whether you thought there was a point to warning parents or not, I wanted to make sure of what you meant.

I don't know, I think that if the student is spending a large amount of time in one place (the host's home) then it could make a significant difference to the risk whether there are guns present and especially whether that host takes my kid out shooting where there will definitely be guns being used. Of course I'm aware that not all accidental or intentional shootings happen in or near people's private homes, but many do. I would think if I could control one factor in my (hypothetical) kid's safety, it's better than controlling none. But I agree if a parent absolutely wants to protect their kid from any risk of being shot or witnessing a shooting, the US is not the place to send them.

I also agree this discussion is somewhat irrelevant to the actual story that was posted. I made the suggestion because I think giving parents a choice is more practical than the original suggestion of only hosting kids in gun-free homes. Also the fact that the option is there serves as an extra alert for parents who have (somehow) not thought about the issue. Maybe it won't make a huge difference, but it won't hurt anyone. Hopefully if there's a school or university involved they'll also provide some information about cultural differences and potential risks.

@WonkoTheSane
A few people also have guns for hunting in the UK. But you need a licence, as you do for a car. To me that's a fairly key point, that someone should have bare minimum safety training to acquire and use one without supervision. Anyway I've seen that analogy a lot and it just seems like a false equivalence to me, and unlikely to change anyone's attitude in either direction.
 

madphysicist

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I thought about this issue some more on my walk home.

It boils down to this: whether the difference in risk is substantial or not, my mental health depends on me feeling safe and comfortable in my home environment, which I could not do with firearms around the house. And I would feel even more unsafe going shooting or hunting with someone unless I had proof they were appropriately trained. So I wouldn't want to put my kids in this kind of situation either.

Probably some people have the same feeling of unease if they do not have a firearm in their house, because unlike me they have been raised to see it as a necessary tool for self-defence.

IMO there is a distinct advantage in accommodating other people's need for a feeling of security by giving them a choice. I don't think that need should be completely ignored; even if you could prove to me the difference in risk is very low because I'm already in the US, I would still feel unsafe in that home.

Again this is not directly relevant to the case in the OP - indeed that is not the kind of incident I think about when I think about gun violence or control, because if someone truly wishes their spouse harm they will find a way to do it with or without a gun. As far as I can tell from the article, there was no indicator that this couple were unsuitable as hosts before the incident occurred.
 

mdchachi

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Giving parents at least the choice to select a gun-free host family sounds like a reasonable request.
It does seem reasonable; however given that this appears to not be asked on many host-family applications it shows what a non-issue it has been. I think if it wasn't on the form it wouldn't even occur to me to disclose such a thing. Same as it wouldn't occur to me to disclose I had a dog.

When I saw the headline I at first thought the student had been killed and I cringed in anticipation of a replay of the Hattori-kun debacle.
Yes it was my first thought too. Very glad the student is ok.

There's no reason that any normal person in the UK would use a gun except for target practice, and then you would go to a range where there are qualified safety instructors.
You don't need a qualified safety instructor to shoot a gun just like you don't need driving instructors to drive a car. Of course you need to be taught and practice gun safety just as you need to be taught and practice safe driving.

Now I know better. Now I realize that if we ever act as a host family (and we've thought of it) to a Japanese (not meaning European) student, we should probably disclose to his parents that we have guns in the house.
If it's not on the form, it would probably suffice to say something like your family's hobbies include hunting and/or shooting.

The only reason I lead the discussion towards your stance in particular is that I was honestly shocked you would give access to a gun to a minor under any circumstances without asking the permission of the parents. Yes, perhaps I need to be more aware of this on any future trips I or my family make to the US if this is considered a normal thing to do there.
I think it would not occur to many Americans to do so. Typically the default behavior would be to treat the student like one of their own. Target shooting or hunting is not that much different from going bowling or skiing in the minds of many Americans. Just another family activity.

The host can just tick a box on a form, allowing the parents to make a decision (indeed the presence of the box may be enough to indicate the difference in culture).

Or maybe be careful about what exchange program you use. Some of them seem to have thought this through. e.g.
While under the sponsorship of Global Insights, the Student may not participate in hunting, use of firearms or air/spring powered guns, skydiving, hang gliding, glider riding, parachute jumping, parasailing, jet skiing, hot air ballooning, scuba diving, mountaineering, rock climbing, bungee jumping, horse jumping, and/or any activity that Global Insights defines as high-risk activity.
 

nice gaijin

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Poor girl, I can't imagine how traumatic this experience must be for her. I knew a student who had undisclosed mental issues (schizophrenic, auditory hallucinations) and started acting irrationally during their time abroad to the point of being sent home... and I've known students who had to deal with host families that were suffering from depression.

The fact is, it's a mixed bag and it's impossible to eliminate all risks. It sounds like it was an argument that got out of control and ended in tragedy, changing the weapon to something else doesn't make it any less tragic.
 

mdchachi

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Update on the story. It looks like the teen didn't find the bodies. That image is one thing she doesn't have to remember for the rest of her life. So that's good news.

Identities revealed in Orion Township murder-suicide - Story | WJBK
The couple was hosting a 17-year-old exchange student from Japan, who was home during the event.

"She heard them arguing and was in a different part of the house, put in ear buds, turned the music up, heard a loud noise but didn't really put two and two together," said Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard.

The teen went to school and returned to find the Renusch couple dead, just as sheriff deputies arrived to perform a welfare check after Maria-Aurora's coworkers said she hadn't shown up for work.

"One deputy talked to her and the other one began through the house and found both of them deceased," Bouchard said.
 

madphysicist

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You don't need a qualified safety instructor to shoot a gun just like you don't need driving instructors to drive a car. Of course you need to be taught and practice gun safety just as you need to be taught and practice safe driving.

That wasn't the point I was trying to make, I was trying to explain how abnormal it is in our culture to be around guns that are not in a controlled environment with people whose job it is to keep us safe, and so analogising guns to cars makes very little sense for us. Sure if you want to you can go through training and get a firearms licence to shoot by yourself in the UK, but extremely few people would ever think of doing this because we don't use guns in our daily life like we do cars. Clearly this is not the case in parts of the US, but I still think the car analogy is deeply flawed and unhelpful.

The teen went to school and returned to find the Renusch couple dead, just as sheriff deputies arrived to perform a welfare check after Maria-Aurora's coworkers said she hadn't shown up for work.

"One deputy talked to her and the other one began through the house and found both of them deceased," Bouchard said.

That's a bit oddly phrased. I really hope she didn't see anything. Hearing the shots and knowing now what it was must be bad enough.
 
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