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Loudoun Authorities Investigating Possible Murder-Suicide

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By Bill Brubaker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 24, 2007; 6:32 PM

Long-time Purcellville business and community leader Edward E. Nichols Jr. apparently killed his wife, Margaret H. Nichols, then killed himself, at their home on Nursery Avenue Friday afternoon, the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office said today. They were both 87.

Their deaths are being investigated as a murder-suicide based on evidence, including a firearm, collected at the scene, sheriff's office spokesman Kraig Troxell said.

Margaret Nichols had Alzheimer's disease and Edward Nichols was losing his sight, a family member has told The Washington Post.

An autopsy performed today determined that Edward Nichols, part-owner of Nichols Hardware in Purcellville and a former member of the Town Council, died from a "shotgun wound to the head," Virginia medical examiner's office spokeswoman Lucy Caldwell said. The cause and manner of Margaret Nichols' death was pending, she said.

Margaret Nichols was discovered around 2 p.m. Friday after Purcellville police received a 911 call about an "unknown situation" at the house, the sheriff's office said.

Purcellville police called the sheriff's department because it was unclear whether other people were in the house. The sheriff's department responded with a SWAT team that found Edward Nichols.

The investigation into the incident is continuing, Troxell said.

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