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6 bodies found in house after 911 call

DA's investigator among fatally shot in California

GARNER VALLEY, Calif. -- An investigator for the district attorney's office was found shot to death yesterday in his sprawling ranch home along with five other people, including three children.

Authorities said police were notified of the crime from a call made from inside the house.

Riverside County Sheriff Bob Doyle said detectives had not reached any conclusions about the slayings, but said police were not looking for a suspect.

Doyle said the slayings were still being investigated as a homicide.

''That does not rule out that we could be looking at a homicide-suicide," he said. ''We are trying to put the puzzle together as to what did occur here."

David McGowan, 44, was found dead of a gunshot wound to the head close to the entrance of the home, Doyle said at a news conference in Riverside. A handgun and a telephone, which may have been used to call 911, were found near his body.

''All the victims, except Mr. McGowan, were undisturbed in their beds," he said. ''There was no sign of a struggle whatsoever."

The sheriff said there was no evidence of a break-in or disorder in any of the rooms, and he added that the ''community is in no danger."

''We are not at this time looking for a suspect," he said.

McGowan was a five-year veteran of the Riverside County district attorney's office in Indio and previously worked as a detective with the Cathedral City Police Department. He was on the board of directors of the Riverside County Sheriff's Association.

A 14-year-old boy, two girls -- 8 and 10 years old -- and two adult women were found in beds throughout the house, all of them shot in the head, investigator said.

The adult women appeared to be about 40 and 60 years old, investigators said. McGowan's mother-in-law was believed to be living in the house, they said.

The names of the victims were withheld pending positive identification, Doyle said. ''The beds were undisturbed. The house itself was undisturbed. It did not appear that the house had been ransacked," Doyle said.

The sheriff said someone called 911 from the house at 4:33 a.m. A 911 dispatcher didn't hear any voices on the line, but was able to identify the sounds of the telephone hitting the wall and a gunshot, Doyle said. ''It was pretty much no one on the other end of the phone. There was some noise that was heard by dispatch," he said. He said there were no calls from any neighbors in the area.

The remote, mountainous area about 100 miles southeast of Los Angeles is well-known for its horse ranches, nestled among rolling meadows and tall pines.

Public records show David and Karen McGowan bought the 4Æ-acre property and 3,330-square-foot ranch house on Devil's Ladder Road for $425,000 in 2000.

Neighbors said they were shocked by the scene unfolding nearby.

''It's just really quiet here," said David Merriman, whose parents live about a mile from the McGowans. ''A lot could happen right next door and you wouldn't even know it."

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