Mystery to apparent murder-suicide

PETTYVILLE – Patricia Little said she’s been told what happened at her daughter’s residence across the street from her own in the Oaks Trailer Park Tuesday morning, but she doesn’t understand why.

The Wood County Sheriff’s Department reported Tuesday that Little’s daughter, 43-year-old Christina Johnston, died after being shot multiple times with a pistol, apparently by her live-in boyfriend, James Auvil, 53. Auvil died of a single gunshot wound.

“I can’t picture him killing her because he always thought so much of her,” Little said. “It’ll always be a mystery. I’ll never get this straightened out.”

Deputy Sheriff Capt. Mark King said it’s not clear what precipitated the incident.

According to a release from the sheriff’s department, deputies were dispatched to the trailer at 408 Sarah St. after a call from Johnston at 7:53 a.m. She said Auvil was making threats against himself and her. Deputies arrived at the house at 8 a.m. to find Johnston, apparently shot multiple times, and Auvil, with one gunshot wound, inside.

Paramedics from the Camden Clark and St. Joseph’s ambulance services were unsuccessful in their attempts to revive the couple, the release says. Both were pronounced dead at the scene.

King said neither Auvil nor Johnston had a record with the sheriff’s department, and deputies had never been sent to the residence on a domestic call.

Dan Poole, who lives three doors down from Johnston and Auvil’s residence, said he never thought of Auvil as a violent person.

“He was a real nice guy, really,” he said.

King said other people deputies interviewed were similarly caught off guard.

“It really surprised and shocked them,” he said.

Shirley McColpin, who lives beside Poole and two houses from where the shootings took place, said she’s lived in the Oaks for 17 years.

“I never expected anything like this, never,” she said.

Although multiple shots were fired, Poole, McColpin and Little said they weren’t aware of anything going on until first responders arrived.

“I was sitting here reading the newspaper, and I heard all these car doors slamming,” Little said.

The couple had been together for about 10 years, Little said. Although Auvil had had some struggles recently, it never occurred to her that he might become violent.

She was surprised to learn a gun was in the residence.

“I can’t picture him shooting a gun,” she said.

King said deputies are still trying to determine to whom the gun belonged. The incident remains under investigation and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Charleston is assisting.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family members,” King said.

The Mineral Wells Volunteer Fire Department, West Virginia State Police and the Wood County coroner also responded.