Smithville Shooting Update: Family Members Speak Out

By KBJR News 1

August 6, 2010 Updated May 28, 2010 at 7:44 PM CDT

DULUTH, MINN. --- Relatives say 56–year–old Michael Peterson and his wife, 50–year–old Kaye Peterson, are expected to be taken off life support equipment tonight and their organs donated.

The update comes just two days after a tragic shooting at the couple's 9425 Grand Avenue home, where Duluth Police believe Michael Peterson shot Kaye Peterson three times in the back of the head, then turned the gun on himself.

According to Duluth Police spokesman Brad Wick, the case is currently being investigated as an attempted murder-suicide.

"Obviously, we would have to upgrade that status to murder-suicide if both of them become ... deceased," Wick said in an interview yesterday.

Michael's sister Carlin Schiess says she can't believe it.

"He was very compassionate, quiet, intelligent," Schiess said. " I've been trying to run it through my mind, and the only way I can... just the phrase 'He couldn't live without her.'

"It's as if he felt he couldn't die without her," Schiess added.

Family members told Northland's NewsCenter the Peterson's were struggling through a "rocky divorce" they say was initiated by Kaye Peterson.

"She was so beautiful... Just a beautiful, artistic woman.... and very religious," said Debbie Reilly, Kaye Peterson's cousin.

Reilly went on to say that Kaye and Michael had recently grown apart, citing they had "changed as people" but were still living together at 9425 Grand Avenue.

Family members say Kaye Peterson worked as a health technician at the Superior, WI Veteran's Administration Clinic, while Michael Peterson worked at the NewPage Paper Mill in Duluth.

According to sister Carlin Schiess, Michael Peterson was "devastated" due to the couple's divorce and those around him noticed that he was "obviously withdrawn." However, she says he was offered help.

"His work tried to help. He had gone through sessions, I believe, with a psychologist from work...It was affecting his life in every facet," Schiess said.

As for what could have caused the tragic shooting, Schiess can't offer any explanation.

"He loved her so much, it's... just... unthinkable."

Schiess went on to say that relatives expect both Michael and Kaye's organs to be donated at some point tonight.

She indicated that two separate teams of transplant surgeons were standing by, and are expected help the family decide when to remove both Michael and Kaye from life support. Both are currently at separate Duluth hospitals.

"Out of a tragedy, many people can be helped, since both Kaye and Michael are donors," Schiess said.

The Peterson's have three adult sons, the youngest who is 20.

Written for the web by Matt Standal