MORRISVILLE — Police are investigating the shooting deaths of a married couple found dead in their Morrisville home Monday morning as a murder-suicide.
Melissa Eileen Preston, 43, and Jonathan Edward Preston, 46, were found dead at 2016 Weaver Forest Way in the Providence Place subdivision.
Morrisville spokeswoman Stephanie Smith said the case is a murder-suicide, but she declined to say if police know who shot whom.
A man who called 911 Monday morning said the Prestons “were having problems” before they were found dead.
The caller, who was not identified, said he and his wife were visiting the Preston couple’s home in the Providence Place subdivision when he heard gunshots coming from the master bedroom.
“I’m not going up there. It sounded like shots fired,” the caller told a dispatcher after he went outside to call 911.
“It was probably like 10 shots,” he said. “It sounded like a small caliber gun.”
The man went on to tell the dispatcher that he did not hear the Prestons arguing before the shots rang out.
“I know they were having problems,” he said. “I did hear her hollering his name.”
The shots were reported at 8:51 a.m. Monday at the home, which the Prestons were renting. The couple’s three children were not home at the time.
More than 2,800 miles away, Melissa Preston’s family grieved.
The family gathered at Melissa Preston’s mother's home in Vancouver, Wash., on Tuesday as investigators continued to piece together the events leading up to the shootings.
“It’s too painful,” said her mother, Patricia Rockwell. “She had so much energy, so much life. She reminded me of one of those storybook characters who sprinkled magic dust over people. People just gravitated towards her.”
Melissa Preston was a high school volleyball and basketball athlete who went on to study merchandising at Washington State University. She met Jonathan Preston as a teenager and the two stayed in touch and eventually married. The couple lived in Washington State in both Spokane and Camas with a brief stint in China. The Prestons moved to Morrisville in 2012.
Rockwell is cautious in describing her son-in-law.
“We all liked Jon,” she said. “...All I know is she’s gone. It’s such a loss for the whole family. Her brothers are devastated. There is so much anger and hurt and pain. She was just a joy to be around. All I know is my daughter is gone.”
Rockwell last saw her daughter at Christmas and said she could sense her daughter missed the west coast and being close to family. Melissa Preston’s niece Vanessa Clarkson shared happy memories of her aunt.
“She had this contagious belly laugh,” Clarkson said. “She was this girly, girl. Lots of jewelry, lots of shopping.”
Melissa Preston was also the life of the party.
“You knew when Melissa was in the house either by her laugh or her loud shirt,” said Clarkson, of her aunt’s love of bedazzling clothes and adding sparkle. “There was no stopping for her. She was just go-go-go.”
But above all, Melissa Preston was a proud active mother baking football shaped cookies for her sons or adding rhinestones to a baseball cap with her daughter.
“She’s that loud mom in the bleachers,” Clarkson said. “She’s one of the ones with the cut oranges and the Capri Suns. She’d wear all the gear, the jerseys, hats.”
The couple’s three children who range in age from 8 to 14 attend Weatherstone Elementary School in Cary and West Cary Middle School. Wake County schools sent a note home to the parents from these two schools and is offering counseling services, said spokeswoman Renee McCoy.
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