Minutes earlier, a relative had called 911 to report that Bruce had phoned saying he “just shot his wife” and “he was going to shoot himself as well.”
When officers arrived, they tried repeatedly to make contact with the couple. They got no response. Upon entering, they found Bruce, 84, and Deborah, 54, both dead with gunshot wounds.
Family members were struggling to understand what had happened between them.
They had both been previously married. Despite the large age gap, Russ said, “I swear she loved him and he loved her.”
Their palatial home near Clarksburg Road is also advertised as Valhalla Manor, a 50-acre wedding venue that Deborah ran.
“The countryside estate,” the venue’s website says, “is capable of accommodating the most intimate gatherings to elegant receptions.”
Russ said Deborah had “a rough life that wasn’t easy.”
Her son, Lance Cpl. James W. Higgins Jr., died in 2006 while fighting in Iraq. The Marine had played football at Catoctin High School and excelled in history.
“When I got the news that he was going to Iraq, I was proud for him, because that’s what he wanted to do, because he was proud of his country,” Higgins’s brother, Joseph Higgins, told the Baltimore Sun.
Deborah also had financial problems, Russ said. Public records showed she had been sued numerous times by companies pursuing unpaid bills. She had filed for bankruptcy several times, most recently in 2015.
Relatives of Bruce Tucker did not return calls for comment.
Authorities said the incident, which they are calling a domestic-related homicide, remains under investigation.
“I didn’t see this coming,” Russ said. “I don’t care what happened between them — you don’t kill somebody.”