Sherrie Newton, 43, was struck by multiple gunshots and Bryan Bunch, 26, had one gunshot wound, according to Sergeant Dana Pierce with the Cobb police. Police say Bunch was the likely
Newton’s husband, Marty, told police he returned at about 5:30 p.m. to his home on Post Oak Tritt Road, west of Johnson Ferry Road, and discovered the bodies of his wife and Bunch. Marty Newton then called 911, Pierce said.
On Thursday afternoon, yellow crime tape wrapped around trees, setting up a perimeter along the Newton’s home. Deflated Christmas yard decorations were lying next to the driveway across from a basketball goal.
Pierce said, based on a preliminary investigation by the medical examiner and police, it is suspected that Bunch used a handgun to kill Newton and then himself. There was no sign of forced entry, he said.
But a final determination on the manner and cause of both deaths will be examined by the Cobb County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Pierce said the relationship between Bunch and Newton is not known, and investigators are looking for a “common thread” that links the two.
Pierce said Bunch, of 1020 Fairfield Court in Marietta, does not appear to have a criminal record.
A home in the woods
The Newtons’ home sits on less than an acre of land owned by the couple, according to the Cobb County Tax Assessor’s office.
Their land and two-story lofted home, built in 1994, was appraised in 2013 at $207,130 for tax purposes.
Their plot is surrounded by deep woods, which is part of the Tritt homestead, part of an allotment of 120 acres that the father of country music singer Travis Tritt inherited 65 years ago.
Part of that land was developed into the Lost Forest subdivision, where Julian Phelps, a 64-year-old retired salesman, has lived for 16 years.
“And they won’t sell this for development,” Phelps said about the Tritt property around the Newton home. “At least not yet.”
In September, the Newtons were granted a permit to construct a $34,364 addition to the front of the home, according to the Tax Assessor’s office.
On Thursday, the home was empty, with exposed installation where olive-green siding had been pulled down. Portable toilets and a trash bin sat in the yard.
Phelps said he goes for a walk past the Newton home every day and often sees construction workers on the property or trucks making deliveries.
Police have not ruled out if Bunch was a contractor hired to complete the addition to the front of the home.
A quiet neighborhood
Across Post Oak Tritt Road from the Newtons’ home is the entrance to Chestnut Ridge, a curved road with around 50 two-story homes, many of which had large Christmas wreaths hanging against the brick facades in the afternoon sun Thursday.
Joy Fox, who has lived behind Chestnut Ridge in Rolling Acres, a subdivision with 143 homes, said she uses the entrance every day.
“It is a very quiet family area,” Fox said.
Phelps said he was shocked by the news of the deaths.
“I know these types of things occur in every neighborhood, but I have never seen it,” Phelps said, looking at the crime scene now visible to an entire neighborhood.
Phelps said, in the past 16 years, the area has stayed much the same, with people moving in there for the great schools nearby.
“I would be here first before any place else in Atlanta,” Phelps said.