UPDATED WITH SHOOTER ID . . .
Orange County sheriff's investigators now have a working theory in the ghastly murder-suicides that took the lives of a 67-year-old woman, her 38-year-old daughter and her granddaughters, 4 and 2, inside a five-bedroom, $1.7 million home in San Clemente's upscale Talega gated community Monday afternoon.
Grandma pulled the trigger.
Again, again and again.
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TheOrange County Register
says a senior homicide investigator, who requested anonymity, disclosed the department believes retired psychologist and former second-grade teacherBonnie Hoult
and her daughter, intellectual property lawyer and former engineerElizabeth Fontaine
, made a pact before the grisly shootings were carried out.
His account: Hoult was holding Catherine Fontaine, 4, outside the home on a quiet Calle Sonador cul de sac about 1:30 p.m. when a sheriff's cruiser rolled up. Hoult ran into the home with Catherine in tow and locked the doors behind her. As the female deputy was still standing outside, Hoult, now holding a handgun registered to her, walked up to Elizabeth Fontaine, who was cradling 2-year-old Julia Fontaine in her arms, put the muzzle in the toddler's mouth and fired once. Lizzie then opened her mouth and Hoult fired again. Hoult grabbed Catherine and shot her in the mouth. Then grammy took her own life.
Deputies bolted in to discover the bloodied bodies on a marble floor. They were so close together they were touching.
The handgun had fallen nearby and because there was gun residue on the arms of both women, it was difficult at first to determine who pulled the trigger, the lawman told the Register.
The four had come from Houston for a Monday morning custody hearing in Orange County Superior Court, where Judge Thomas H. Shulte gave temporary custody of the girls to the sister of Elizabeth's ex-, Jason S. Fontaine of Lake Forest.
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The Fontaines, who used to live in Newport Coast before their divorce was finalized, were embroiled in a bitter child custody battle in which the former Mrs. alleged the Mr. molested the girls. She originally got a judge to forbid him from seeing his daughters, then he got that overturned and won unmonitored visitations, then she, her mother and the girls moved to Houston.
Hoult and the female Fontaines were staying with friends Kevin and Leslie Herbert and their young son in the rented house on Calle Sonador. Kevin Herbert called authorities Monday because he reportedly heard plans being hatched that bothered him. He also told his wife to leave the house and pick up their son.
The Fontaine girls' bags were packed for a 3:30 p.m. flight back to Houston. Investigators theorize Hoult believed the female deputy had come to take the girls, the Reggie source said.
Retired Los Angeles scientist Charles P. Hoult, who is Elizabeth's 76-year-old father and Bonnie's ex-, learned of the killings on his birthday, while recovering from surgery, reports the Register.