Oregon Family of Six Found Dead
Friday: Police tape surrounds the home where the slain family was found.
Friday, March 15, 2002

McMINNVILLE, Ore. — A father apparently shot his four children and wife to death in their beds, then used the shotgun to kill himself, authorities said Friday.

The shootings are believed to have occurred nearly three weeks before sheriff's deputies found the bodies Thursday night, said Yamhill County prosecutor Bradley C. Berry.

The motive was unknown, but evidence indicated Robert Bryant, 37, killed his family, Berry said.

The children -- ages 9 to 15 -- were last at school on Feb. 22, and investigators believe the shootings occurred the following day.

School authorities made several attempts to contact the family after teachers noticed the children's absence, said Karen Richey, assistant superintendent for the McMinnvile School District.

"We had people knocking on the door several times," but no one answered, she said. School officials weren't alarmed because it is common for students to be absent during the flu season, she said.

Two sheriff's deputies were in the vicinity Thursday night on an unrelated call when neighbors approached them to express concern about the family. The deputies used a ladder to look into a window and spotted the bodies.

The Bryants recently moved to Oregon from the Sacramento, Calif., area. Court records show that before they moved, Bryant had filed for bankruptcy.

Bryant was a self-employed landscaping contractor. The other victims were his wife, Janet Ellen, 37, and Clayton, 15; Ethan, 12; Ashley, 10; and Alyssa, 9.

The hillside home sits on about two acres in a rural subdivision outside McMinnville, a prosperous town in the heart of Oregon's vineyard country. The town is about 20 miles south of Portland.

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