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Wife of gunman sounds panicked in 911 calls

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Updated: 12/02/2010 8:54 am
NEPTUNE BEACH, Fla. -- Action News has a copy of the 911 call made by the wife of a man who started shooting his relative in Neptune Beach.

The community is still dealing with the tragedy. It was something the neighborhood never expected. SWAT teams were running down the street, crime tape was everywhere and then a loud boom that rattled everyone.

It all stemmed from 70-year-old Martin Zell. It was the panic in his wife's voice that gave clues to investigators about what happened in a quiet Neptune Beach neighborhood. "I'm not sure what's going on here, but my husband called me this afternoon to tell me when I got home I should check for some information. He told me to check under my pillow," said Zell's wife.

There she found a suicide note from her husband. "What I'm reading is, I (suicide letter from Zell) accept full responsibility for taking my own life and Jeff's life," his wife told 911 dispatchers. But when she read the letter to 911 dispatchers, her husband was already dead.

Zell was talking about his ex-son-in-law, Jeff Hess. He lived inside a home in Neptune Beach. Police found Hess outside on the ground Monday afternoon. He later died in surgery. Zell was found dead inside on the couch. It all happened two hours before Zell's wife made the frantic call. "Does it say why he's doing this," asked the 911 dispatcher. "No, I know him (Hess). It's a son-in-law whose kinda been not very nice. He never mentioned anything like this and that's why I don't know. I don't know if it's true, but he said I accept full responsibility . I just checked the house and I know we have a gun and the gun is not here. He picked the kids up from school and met us at the doctors office. Everything seemed fine," said Zell's wife.

While two families are now grieving, they're also looking for any warning signs that could've prevented this tragedy. We've learned Hess was a pharmaceutical rep who had recently been laid off. Zell was retired. Zell has no prior criminal history.
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