LEBANON, Tenn. (WKRN) — Court records are giving us more insight into a Monday morning shooting that left a wife and a mother-in-law dead at the hands of an estranged husband who later killed himself.
“It’s a tragedy that shouldn’t have happened,” said Michelle Mowery Johnson, Director of Communications at the Nashville & Middle Tennessee YWCA.
Lebanon Police say 36-year-old Shaun Varsos went to Whispering Oaks Drive and broke into his mother-in-law’s home with a shotgun Monday. Witnesses tell News 2 both his estranged wife, 31-year-old Marie Varsos and her mother, 60-year-old Deborah Sisco ran outside to try to get away from him.
They were both later found dead outside in a neighboring lawn.
Lebanon Police say one of the victims was able to fire back striking Varsos before he fled to West Nashville, where he was found dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Minutes before the killings, a lengthy post appeared on a Facebook page that appears to belong to Shaun Varsos. It reads, in part quote: “Marie Varsos killed me. She lied to me and destroyed me. This is my dying declaration.” He went on to write that he couldn’t live with the mental abuse any longer.
Court documents, including a petition for divorce and order of protection, are giving us more insight as to why this tragedy may have happened.
Records show the couple was married May 17, 2013 and separated in January of this year. Marie filed for divorce on March 3, citing irreconcilable differences and inappropriate marital conduct.
Three days later, records show Shaun attempted to strangle Marie as she went to pick up her belongs from their shared home. The documents go on to say that Shuan grabbed a gun and threatened Marie’s life. He hit Marie in the face, pointed the gun at her for a second time, then put the gun in his mouth.
After about an hour, the situation de-escalated, and Marie’s mom called police. Marie filed an order of protection the next day, March 8, stating she feared her husband and that he explained he was going to kill Marie, her family, and himself.
Shaun was arrested on March 11 for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and was set to be in criminal court in July.
Attorney Karla Miller, working for Marie Varsos, released a statement following her death:
“We are devastated that the Ex Parte Order of Protection that our client, Marie Varsos, obtained on March 8, 2021, which was in effect at the time of her death, was not enough to keep she and her mother, Deborah Sisco, from being the latest victims of domestic violence against women in Tennessee. Their deaths will serve as a grim reminder that an Order of Protection alone is not the solution to the problem of domestic violence, and we hope this tragedy will result in a renewed effort on the part of our lawmakers to address the systemic issues related to protection of domestic assault victims and the prosecution of their abusers.”
“She had done what everyone says is the right thing to do,” Mowery Johnson said. “Sadly, she couldn’t escape the violence.
Mowery Johnson says Tennessee ranks ninth in the nation when it comes to the rate that men kill women, and according to a recent THP report, in 2020, there were nearly 70,000 domestic violence offenses in the state. More than 45,000 were reported as simple assault.
Seek help if you or someone you love needs it
Help is out there. If you are in danger, need to speak with an advocate, or have general questions about domestic violence, please call the YWCA’s 24-hour Crisis & Support Helpline at 1-800-334-4628 or TEXT 615-983-5170.