Three days after discovering the bodies of a father and son, Emmett Township police have concluded the case is a murder and suicide.
The initial theory that Ralph Rantz, 34, shot and killed his son, Ryan, 8, and then himself a week before they were found has not changed, Lt. Tony Geigle of Emmett Township Department of Public Safety said Wednesday.
"This was not a street hit," Geigle said. "Someone would have had to beam themselves in, kill them, and beam themselves back out. Detectives are still ruling the incident as a murder/suicide, however the investigation is continuing."
An autopsy completed Wednesday afternoon revealed that Ryan Rantz was shot twice, once in the back and once in the head, and that his father died from a single gunshot wound to the head.
Police said the apartment was locked and there were no signs of a break-in.
The boy started a weekend visitation with his father on Saturday, Aug. 23. Ralph Rantz was to return the child by 2 p.m. Monday, Aug. 25, to the boy's mother, Julie Lewis of Eckford.
But when the boy was not brought home, Lewis went to Pine Knoll Apartments on that Tuesday and called township police at 5:11 p.m., Geigle said. She reported she was worried about her son because she could not reach him or Ralph Rantz.
Lewis told police she didn't believe Rantz would harm their son. One of his two cars was in the parking lot but another vehicle and his motorcycle were gone. Police said the motorcycle was in storage and the other vehicle had been repossessed.
The next day, Lewis contacted the Calhoun County Sheriff Department at 1:26 p.m. and said she was still unable to reach her son or his father. A deputy knocked on the door of the Pine Knoll apartment but did not enter through the locked door.
"She said she was worried about her son but had no reason to believe her son was in any harm or danger," Geigle said.
But on Saturday abut 4 p.m. a neighbor living a floor below Rantz called Emmett Township police saying she had not seen him or his son outside for days and detected a foul smell.
Officers had to force their way into the front door. Geigle said the door was locked and it was blocked from the inside with bikes, a tool box and other items. Keys to the apartment were inside and all windows were locked and screens were in place.
"The apartment was cluttered and there was literally stuff piled against the door."
Officers found the bodies of Ryan and his father in a bedroom. Ryan had been shot twice and was on the bed. His father was shot in the head and was on the floor. A Rugar .357-caliber handgun was next to him.
The gun had been fired three times, Geigle said, and the three slugs were recovered.
Neighbors did not report hearing gunshots.
Police said the murder and suicide happened either Sunday or Monday before anyone missed the boy and his father.
Geigle said Rantz left a message on the answering machine of a relative that "he was going to kill himself because he could not bear the thought of taking (his son) back to his mother's house."
Trace Christenson can be reached at 966-0685 or email@example.com.
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