UNIONVILLE A couple with a turbulent past were found dead in this northeastern Union County town early Thursday, and the deaths were witnessed by their 9-year-old daughter, authorities said.
Authorities identified the dead as Mary Overman Ismail, 36, and her estranged husband, Bobby Ihab Ismail, 45, of Monroe. The Union County Sheriffs Office is now describing the case as a death investigation pending further investigation, although early Thursday had called it an apparent murder-suicide.
The couple were married in 1995 in Mecklenburg County, records show. They got divorced in 1997 then remarried a year later. Sandwiched between that time was a guilty verdict for domestic criminal trespass against Bobby Ismail in which the court forbade him from going near Mary and said he could only contact her through his probation officer.
There was more court action recently. On Sept. 24, Mary Ismail took out a temporary restraining order against Bobby Ismail. It was unclear Thursday if it was in effect when the shootings occurred.
Around 6 a.m. Thursday, mother and daughter were waiting for the school bus in a pickup truck outside their home on Sikes Mill Road, deputies told WCNC-TV, the Observers news partner. The neighborhood is in a rural, heavily wooded area about a 45-minute drive southeast of uptown Charlotte.
Police havent released a narrative of what happened during the shooting, but authorities said the girl fled the scene after the gunshots were fired.
Someone who spotted her called 911 and told dispatchers a woman was shot in a truck. A second truck was pulled up beside the truck. Bobby Ismails body was found outside the vehicles.
A gun was recovered at the scene, but authorities did not say what kind.
In a press release, the Sheriffs Office stated that investigators still need time to review and process all of the evidence, including a report from the medical examiner, as they work to determine the circumstances that led up to this tragic incident.
Thursday morning, yellow police tape at the scene was strung up between two trees on either side of the road. A white truck was parked next to a dark-colored truck, their drivers side windows facing each other. A white sheet was draped over the windshield of the white truck.
Investigators with the Sheriffs Office interviewed the girl to determine how much she saw, Sheriffs Office Capt. Ronnie Whitaker said. The countys Department of Social Services was trying to find family members with whom the girl might stay.
The State Bureau of Investigation is assisting the Sheriffs Office with the case.
I cant remember anything like this happening in this part of the county, Whitaker said.
Doris Griffin agreed with Whitakers assessment of the community.
The 68-year-old runs the preschool at nearby Lakeview Baptist Church and has lived in the area her entire life, as have many others in the area, she said.
Its a loving community, Griffin said, as kids buzzed around her. This is not something you hear about at all.
This is the latest tragedy to hit the county. Over the summer, there were six homicides in three unrelated cases outside of the small town of Marshville in eastern Union County.
Staff researcher Maria David and staff photographer David Hinshaw contributed.