That’s when the deadly shootout began.
More than a decade earlier, Lindsey had split with his ex-wife, Cheryl Sanders, who worked as a Hollywood stuntwoman, according to the Dayton Daily News. Though both had remarried, they reportedly remained locked in a dispute over a college fund for their daughters.
When Lindsey and his new wife returned home Wednesday, he said, Cheryl and her new husband, Robert Reed Sanders, were waiting, dressed in camouflage and wielding guns.
By the time police arrived on the scene a little after 11 a.m., both Cheryl, 59, and Robert, 56, were dead.
“I shot them,” Lindsey told a 911 dispatcher, according to recordings obtained by the Daily News.
Authorities are trying to determine whether the slain couple planned to “ambush” the Duncans on their rural 11-acre estate, Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer said at a Thursday news conference. The Sanderses had reportedly driven roughly six hours from their North Carolina home, showing up in a car with fake Ohio plates. About five years earlier, Fischer said, Lindsey had called police to say that he was worried that his ex-wife had hired an assassin to kill him.
But a close friend of the Sanderses has expressed doubts, saying that the “good Christian” couple were the ones who were afraid of Lindsey.
Ohio is one of several states where the Castle Doctrine gives homeowners the right to defend their property with lethal force, and Lindsey has not been charged with a crime. He told reporters that when he and his wife got back from breakfast Wednesday, they noticed an Amazon package propped up by the gate and stopped to pick it up.
Just then, he said, a large man in a camouflage mask and hoodie raced over to Molly’s side of the car and pointed a gun about 10 inches from her head.
“I thought it was a bad nightmare,” Lindsey said. “I didn’t know what to do. Whatever happened after that was instinct.”
The Duncans told police that the man threatened to kill them, the Yellow Springs News reported. Lindsey, who holds a concealed-carry license and had his gun with him, hopped out of the car, he asserted. Bullets started flying, though it’s not clear who fired the first shots. Amid the chaos, Cheryl drove up and pulled out a gun of her own. She, too, began firing at Lindsey, the Duncans said.
“My husband is shooting these people ’cause they’re threatening to shoot us!” Molly told a 911 dispatcher, according to Dayton 24/7 Now. “You need to get here now.”
Neither of the Duncans were harmed in the firefight. Lindsey told reporters at a Friday news conference that at multiple points during the shootout, his wife was caught in the middle of two separate gun battles, with bullets whizzing four inches from her head. “Her being alive today, I’ll never be able to explain it,” he said. “It wasn’t one shot or two shots — it seemed like 100 shots. There were shells everywhere."
After the shootout, deputies found a pair of cameras that had been mounted on a stump across from the Duncans’ property, Fischer said. The feed was being broadcast to a cellphone in Cheryl’s car, suggesting that she had been watching the confrontation unfold. Authorities also discovered that Robert was carrying multiple forms of identification, which the sheriff said could be evidence that he planned to flee.
Cheryl, a former kickboxing champion, had used her martial arts prowess to launch a successful career as a stunt double for the likes of Brooke Shields, Nicole Kidman and Sharon Stone, according to a 2010 interview in the Denver Post. But in 1989, a debilitating fall on the set of “Back to the Future Part II” forced her to take a break from stunt work while she underwent reconstructive surgery. That was when she met Lindsey, who called himself a naturopathic doctor and had founded a supplement and juice company called Genesis Today.
The company sold green coffee bean extract, a bogus weight loss supplement that Lindsey hawked as an “amazing” way to burn fat on the “The Dr. Oz Show.” But despite being introduced as a certified nutritionist in a 2012 appearance, he wasn’t a doctor and only had a degree from a defunct, unaccredited online college, the Federal Trade Commission found. In 2015, he agreed to pay $9 million to settle with the agency over his “deceptive” claims.
By then, Lindsey and Cheryl had split up. The pair filed for divorce in 2009 after nearly a decade of marriage, according to records obtained by the aily News. Their relationship continued to be acrimonious, and in 2016, after Cheryl married Robert, Lindsey sued the couple for defamation, slander and libel.
While it’s not clear what prompted the lawsuit, Lindsey claimed they had tried to extort and harass him, the paper reported. The case was still pending at the time of the deadly shootout.
Adrian King, a close friend who officiated the Sanderses’ wedding, told the Asheville, N.C., Citizen-Times that Lindsey was “domineering” toward his ex-wife and “didn’t like the fact that she had remarried and was happy.” The trust fund that Lindsey and Cheryl had set up for their two college-age daughters became a major source of conflict, he said, since Lindsey wasn’t happy with the girls’ choice of colleges and refused to let them access the money.
“I knew they were going to Ohio to talk to him,” King told the paper. “I begged them not to.”
King, who partnered with Robert on his own supplement company, Zen Formulas, added that he didn’t believe the Duncans’ story. The Sanderses were “good Christians” and carried guns at all times because they were afraid of Lindsey, he said.
“I can’t even conceive that they would do something like that even if they were desperate,” King told WLOS.
At Friday’s news conference, the Duncans rejected the notion that the couple had wanted to talk about college finances. “They said nothing and then they started shooting at us,” Molly told reporters.
Investigators are trying to get to the bottom of what happened, and plan on presenting their findings to a grand jury. Greene County Coroner Kevin Sharrett told WHIO that his office is studying ballistics to figure out exactly how many shots were fired and who fired them.
What precipitated the violent clash also remains a mystery.
“Money can be the root of all evil,” Fischer said Thursday. “But I can’t say it’s money, I’m not sure exactly why this happened. That’s what the investigation is for.”