July 31, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
Police have gathered more information on Monday night’s gruesome incident in Astoria, where four people, including a young boy, were found dead in what appears to be a murder-suicide.
James Shields, a 39-year-old physical therapist, was identified among the dead, along with his 47-year-old ex-wife, Linda Olthos, and their 6-year-old son James. The name of his wife, also among the deceased, has yet to be released pending proper family notification.
All four were found dead with gunshot wounds inside a first floor apartment at 23-07 30th Dr., with police believing Shields to be behind the incident, they said at a press conference earlier today.
Dermot Shea, NYPD Chief of Detectives, said most of the information on the incident comes from interviews with family, people at the scene, residents in the eight-unit building, and information posted on social media.
“What this appears to be is a custody battle, essentially,” Shea said, later adding, “Financials and custody seem to be the primary reasons behind this tragic incident at this point in time.”
Police believe Olthos, who lived in the Netherlands, was in custody of their biological 6-year-old child, with some type of visitation arrangement in place where the child would spend time between his father and mother.
Shea alluded to a GoFundMe page reportedly created by Shields in April, called “Child Kidnapping” where he tried raising money to cover the legal costs for the bitter custody battle. Shields reportedly wrote that his life had “spiraled out of control” over the feud. The page, however, has since been taken down.
Shea said Olthos and her son may have landed in the U.S. around July 21 to both visit New York City and fulfill the visitation agreement, with a friend flying into the city days later to meet up with her.
At some point last night, however, the friend had trouble reaching Olthos, and phoned her sister in the Netherlands, who found out about the incident after doing a Google search. The ex-wife’s family is now flying into the U.S. to meet with the NYPD.
The actual incident, however, was phoned in by someone taking garbage toward the back of the Astoria building, where they saw the gruesome scene.
In addition, police have recovered two Glock firearms and an additional seven magazines that were fully loaded in Shield’s person, a prospect that worried Shea.
“That’s over and above the magazines that were in the two guns,” Shea said, later adding “What those rounds were meant for may never be known.”
Police say the incident is still being investigated, with a vehicle search underway, too.