DA: Murder may have been planned

Kenneth Robert Ayers, the Huntingdon County man who killed his son, shot his estranged wife and then killed himself on Saturday, may have been planning the assault on his family for about a week, according to Huntingdon County District Attorney George Zanic.

Ayers, 52, went to the home of his mother, Mary Olive Ayers, who lives in Barree Township near Petersburg early Saturday morning for a supervised visit with his 2-year-old son, Michael.

The visit turned violent when Ayers pulled a gun and shot his wife, Hollie Jo, in the legs and the right arm and then killed his boy.

After killing his son, he put him in the rear of his car, at which point Hollie, who lives in Belleville, even though wounded, was able to pull the child from Ayers car. That’s when, police say, he shot her in the face.

Hollie Ayers remains in Altoona Regional Health System in stable condition. She is expected to survive.

After the shootings at his mother’s home, Ayers, police theorize, went to his residence in McAlevy’s Fort where he switched vehicles, from a car to a truck.

Police eventually tracked him to a wooded area near the Huntingdon-Centre County line off Route 550. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the cab of his truck.

Investigators said Saturday they want to know why the shooting occurred.

From evidence found in Ayers residence in McAlevy’s Fort, he was planning the attack for up to a week, Zanic said Sunday night.

The District Attorney said Ayers did not leave a suicide note, but there were things he had done during the week that would lend credence to the theory. He would not go into specifics.

Zanic said Ayers was under a protection-from-abuse order and had been in court in 2010 for violating the order.

While state police were not available to discuss the Ayers case Sunday, Huntingdon County Coroner Paul Shraum said autopsies of Ayers and his son would be conducted today.

The autopsies will include toxicology tests that would reveal if Ayers was under the influence of alcohol or drugs on Saturday morning, Shraum said.

Pennsylvania state police criminal investigator Cpl. Daniel Sneath said Saturday that state police would request autopsies, and Shraum said that was part of the reason for his decision to perform the procedures.

Zanic said that Ayers’ mother, who was not injured (although police reported Ayers shot at her during the fracas), met with her minister Saturday.

Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.