By Jeff Lehr
LAMAR, Mo. —
Landon L. Ison never offered a reason for abruptly quitting his job as a Lamar police officer two months ago.
He moved out of the house he shared with his wife and two sons at the start of this month.
Then shortly before 1 a.m. Tuesday, emergency responders were called to the troubled family’s home about a mile southwest of Lamar after Ison reportedly shot and killed his wife, Dana I. Ison, 33, and critically wounded her mother, Cheryl J. Thompson, 67.
Thompson left the home at 91 S.W. Fifth Lane and went to a neighbor’s house seeking help in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. The neighbor called 911.
Barton County sheriff’s deputies and emergency medical technicians found Thompson still conscious outside the residence, and she was taken to Cox Medical Center South in Springfield with what was described as a life-threatening gunshot wound.
Dana Ison was discovered unresponsive inside the home, according to Sgt. Mike Watson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. She was pronounced dead at the scene. She also had been shot, he said. The couple’s two sons were unharmed, he said.
Watson said investigators quickly developed the 32-year-old estranged husband as the lone suspect and began looking for him. About 2:30 a.m., officers located his blue Ford Explorer along a road about four miles northwest of Lamar. The search for him ended in a nearby field.
Ison had taken his own life with a rifle that was recovered near his body, Watson said.
“I think it’s a terrible thing,” Lamar police Chief Ron Hager said in reaction to the murder-suicide at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
Hager said Ison was a good officer in the more than nine years he served on the Lamar police force since being hired in January 2003. Before that, he had served as a dispatcher with the Barton County Sheriff’s Department.
The police chief said Ison never gave him a reason for quitting Aug. 7. He just chose not to come into work one day, he said.
Barton County Sheriff Mitchell Shaw said he asked the state patrol to serve as the lead investigative agency in the shootings “because of the close personal relationships we all had with Officer Ison.”
Barton County Circuit Court records show that Landon Ison filed for divorce in January. Court records indicate that Ison and his wife both submitted parenting plans to the court. But the record shows that the case was dismissed by both parties on July 11.
Shaw, who acknowledged being a close friend of the couple, said he did not necessarily know all that was going on in their relationship.
“Whenever I was around, they seemed to have a good relationship,” Shaw said. “I can’t tell you what’s been going on recently because I haven’t been right there with them.”
The sheriff said he was aware that his friend had quit his job with the Lamar police. He said Ison never told him why, and he chose not to force the issue by asking. Everyone in the community regarded the Isons as “hard-working people,” he said.
Dana Ison worked for AOK Youth Development Services. Kathy Jenkins, president of AOK’s board of directors, released a statement praising her contributions as a social worker and school-age program coordinator.
“She loved the children and they loved her,” the statement read. “She was passionate about making a difference in their lives and she did. Words cannot express our sorrow at her passing.”
Watson declined to discuss details about how many times each woman was shot or the sequence of events inside the house that resulted in the shootings. He also declined to comment on whether the rifle discovered with Landon Ison’s body is believed to have been the weapon used in the shootings of his wife and mother-in-law. He said such details remain under investigation.
He also declined to comment on whether the couple’s two boys witnessed the shootings.
FORMER POLICE OFFICER LANDON ISON moved out of his family’s home Oct. 1 and had been living at an address in Lamar before Tuesday’s murder-suicide, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
THE LAMAR POLICE CHIEF and the Barton County sheriff said there have been no previous reports of domestic violence involving Ison and his wife.