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Autopsies confirm murder-suicide, police say

by Scott Carroll | February 26, 2015 at 3:06 a.m.

Autopsy findings confirmed that a University of Arkansas at Little Rock professor killed his wife and sister before setting their shared home on fire in Maumelle and committing suicide last week, police reported Wednesday.


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James Wilbanks, a 41-year-old assistant professor of management at UALR, was found shot to death Friday night at 151 Auriel Circle along with his wife of 20 months, Tatiana "Tanya" Wilbanks, 27, and his sister Elizabeth Wilbanks, 31.

Emergency personnel responded shortly before 10 p.m. to the burning one-story home and found bodies in a living room, bedroom and near the front door. All three people had gunshot wounds to the head, police reported. Two dogs were also found shot to death.

Police spokesman Capt. Jim Hansard said investigators found a lighter and handgun near James Wilbanks' body.

"The location of the firearm and the location of the lighter that we believe was used to start the fire was right next to him, and some of the physical evidence on him just led us -- it seemed fairly obvious what was going on," Hansard said.

Preliminary autopsy results from the state Crime Laboratory confirmed investigators' suspicions, according to Hansard.

There was no known motive in the slayings.

"We don't know and we'll probably never know definitively, but there's just no indication of anything earth-shattering that happened in this guy's life," Hansard said. "We talked to all kinds of friends and all kinds of relatives. It seems to be just a shock to everyone."

After graduating from Harding University in Searcy, James Wilbanks attended graduate school at UALR and earned a master's degree in business administration. He graduated from the University of Missouri in 2011 with a doctorate in management.

Wilbanks moved back to Little Rock in 2011 and bought the house on Auriel Circle with his sister, according to Pulaski County property records. He began teaching at UALR the same year and married in 2013.

In a statement on Wilbanks' death, the university said it has made counselors available to students and employees.

Hansard said police were not seeking suspects in the slayings. The investigation is closed.

Metro on 02/26/2015

Print Headline: Autopsies confirm murder-suicide, police say


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