By James R. Campbell
Nevada Daily Mail
LAMAR -- A somber panel of law enforcement officers announced Tuesday afternoon that a former Lamar city policeman was suspected of shooting his estranged wife to death, seriously wounding his mother-in-law and then driving to a remote area of Barton County before turning his rifle on himself about 90 minutes later.
Landon Ison, 32, a member of the Lamar Police Department for 9 1/2 years until inexplicably failing to report for duty Aug. 7, was found near his blue Ford Explorer by a Barton County deputy sheriff about 2:30 a.m., Tuesday.
Reading from preliminary reports, Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Mike Watson said the man was suspected of going to his 33-year-old wife Dana's home about 6 1/2 miles southwest of here shortly before 1 a.m., Tuesday, and shooting her to death.
Flanked by Barton County Sheriff Mitchell Shaw and Lamar Chief of Police Ron Hager, Watson said Ison was also suspected of shooting his mother-in-law, 67-year-old Cheryl Thompson of Springfield, who was airlifted to Cox South Hospital in her hometown. Watson said Thompson was listed in serious condition.
Noting that the tragic sequence of events had left the panelists and other city and county officers here in a state of shock because they had known Ison and his wife well, Watson said Dana Ison was declared dead inside her home by Barton County Coroner Dr. C. Tucker Joustra.
The highway patrol investigator said Landon Ison's body was discovered in a field four miles northwest of Lamar. Cheryl Thompson had managed to walk to a neighbor's house after she was shot and that the neighbor called 9-1-1.
Watson said Thompson identified her son-in-law, who had moved into Lamar after separating from his wife on Oct. 1, as her and her daughter's assailant.
The Isons' two juvenile boys were in the home when their mother and grand-mother were shot. He said the couple had married about the time Ison joined the Lamar Police Department and it was the first marriage for both.
Watson declined to say what type of rifle was believed to be the murder-suicide weapon, how many times Mrs. Ison and her mother were shot or what room of the house the shootings were believed to have taken place in.
Hager said Ison had offered no explanation for failing to report in August, thus relinquishing his job, and that Hager had not asked for one. "He didn't show up for work," he said, explaining that he is budgeted for a 10-man department.
"He didn't say why," Hager said. "He was a good officer."
The chief said Dana Ison had worked for AOK Youth Development Services in Lamar, an agency dedicated to teaching lifelong skills to young people, according to its Web site.
Shaw said he was strongly affected by the events because he went to both death scenes and that he and his family "have known the Isons forever.
"This is a terrible surprise, a terrible thing," the sheriff said. "Everyone knows the family. They're hard-working, good people. It was a friendship."
Shaw said he conversed with Ison a few times after he left the police department, but the man did not volunteer a reason for leaving law enforcement and Shaw did not press him. Shaw and Hager didn't know what Ison had been doing since then.
Shaw said Ison had worked as a dispatcher at the Barton County Sheriff's Office before joining the police department. "When I was around, they (the couple) seemed like they had a good relationship," he said.
Services for Landon and Dana Ison will be conducted respectively by Konantz-Warden Funeral Home of Lamar and Potts Funeral Chapel of Independence, Kan., a spokesmen said.