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Rochester Hills — A 53-year-old man beat his elderly parents then placed their bodies in a car inside their garage, police said Tuesday.

The couple, identified as William Joseph Maurer, 87, and Gayle Baird Maurer, 85, died of blunt force trauma, said Oakland County Undersheriff Michael McCabe.

The discovery came as deputies from the Oakland County Sheriff's Office performed a welfare check at a home on East Maryknoll after 3 p.m. Monday after a caller had told authorities she had not been able to contact her mother or father since Saturday.

The caller said the two were living at the home with their son, who has a history of mental illness, with fears that he may have harmed them.

"The daughter had been trying to get a hold of them," McCabe said. "She went to the house to check on them and the son said, 'Mom and dad are gone.' It's not unusual, but the daughter was trying to call them on the cellphone."

The daughter returned with deputies who made their way into the quad-level home. They found the bodies in the garage. One was in the front seat of a car, the other in the back, McCabe said.

"There's no doubt he had placed them in the vehicle," he said. "They were murdered in the house and placed in the vehicle."

McCabe believes deputies have recovered the murder weapon, but declined to say what it is.

The son, who was at the home when deputies arrived, is in custody and is being held at the Oakland County Jail.

"He was in the upper level in a disheveled state," McCabe said. "He had blood on him."

The son is not cooperating with deputies, McCabe said. He said he expects to submit the case to the Oakland County Prosecutor's Office on Wednesday.

The son was arrested in 2000 for domestic violence against his parents and was convicted, McCabe said.

"Obviously it's hard on everybody," McCabe said. "The daughter is devastated. The rest of the neighborhood is devastated. It's a tragedy like no other. They're a couple in their 80s that was independent and able to live on their own. It's a damn shame."

The Maurers' home is set back from the street in a neighborhood of ranches and two-story homes with big yards, covered in snow. Crime scene tape stretched along one side of the home Tuesday afternoon and around a tree in the front yard where an American flag is mounted.

Neighbors describe the area as quiet, with a mix of elderly residents and young newcomers.

Some residents said they didn't know the couple by name, but had seen them doing light yard work in front of the house.

"I just knew them to be very cordial, very nice people," said Stacy Jablonoski, 46, who lives across the street from the home on Maryknoll Road.

Jablonoski said he had heard the couple had a troubled son living with them.

"I had heard that he had some substance abuse and he was battling whatever demons he had," he said. "But I never met him, never saw him."

Linda Dries said she had seen the couple in their yard during her daily walks in the neighborhood, but she never saw their son.

"I never knew anyone lived in there with them," said Dries, 68.

Ali Gelman, 22, said she moved in two doors down from the couple about a year ago.

"It's sad. I didn't really know them," she said. "It's hard to know what happens in other people's homes."

Jablonoski said he didn't expect this type of incident to occur in his neighborhood.

"God forbid it happens to somebody close to me, but you just never know," he said. "It's just awful."

tgreenwood@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2023

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