A man who grew up in the Peoria area died last week in an apparent murder-suicide in his Florida house, according to authorities.
Kirk Keithley, 39, shot and killed his 33-year-old wife, Samantha Keithley, before he did the same thing to himself late Sept. 23 in Land O' Lakes, located about 20 miles north of Tampa.
Authorities were alerted when a 14-year-old boy ran from the house and called 911 after he heard an argument and a gunshot, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Once Pasco County deputies arrived, they found the Keithleys' bodies in separate rooms. Upstairs, they found three other children physically unharmed.
Arguments precipitated the shootings, according to the Times, which published text messages Samantha Keithley sent to a friend.
“Kirk has lost his mind,” Samantha Keithley wrote in one text message. “He’s literally losing it. He’s been harassing me for the last 6 hours and I’ve asked him repeatedly to just leave me alone because I’m sick.”
Said Samantha Keithley's friend Kristin Kellin: “(He) was a quiet guy, but he wasn’t irrational. Everybody has problems, but not anything that would cause him to shoot her in the head.”
Since 2009, Kirk Keithley had been a sheriff's deputy in Hillsborough County, of which Tampa is the seat. Before that, he spent six years as a police officer in St. Petersburg, Fla.
He was born in Peoria and graduated in 1997 from Illinois Valley Central High School in Chillicothe, where he was a varsity baseball player. In his senior year, he was selected to the Journal Star All-Star Baseball Team.
Kirk Keithley also played baseball at Illinois Central College in East Peoria and at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tenn. In 2002, he received a criminal-justice degree from East Tennessee State.
Samantha Keithley was a Tampa-area native who worked in management in a casino there, according to the Times.
The Keithleys were married in 2012. They had two children together, and each had one child from previous relationships. The children are 14, 7, 4 and 2.
"I cannot begin to express how disheartened I am," Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a statement issued Sept. 24. "Domestic violence has no place in our society.
"I ask that everyone join me and the rest of our office and pray for those innocent children who are left behind and have to pick up the pieces. This is something that is impossible to comprehend for even the most seasoned person. Please keep them in your hearts as we all try to make our way through this tragedy."
Kirk Keithley's funeral is scheduled for Tuesday in Peoria. A financial account to benefit his children has been established at the CEFCU office at 8629 N. Knoxville Ave. in Peoria.