Money troubles, marital troubles possible motives in Calif murder-suicide police say

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Money problems and marital troubles were being investigated as possible motives in a couple's murder-suicide and the critical wounding of their 3-year-old son, police said.

The boy, who hid behind a trash can in the backyard for more than 12 hours before he was rescued Monday, remained in critical but stable condition, recovering from at least three bullet wounds to his hip, shoulder and torso, Sgt. Rick Martinez said,

The boy's father, Wayne Zickefoose, 51, shot his 39-year-old wife Herminia Zickefoose Sunday night and tried to kill his two sons, police said. The 3-year-old was trapped in a corner of the backyard. A shot aimed at his 5-year-old brother missed. The boy was inside the house, and the shot was fired through an open doorway, Martinez said.

The family had money troubles and their home was in foreclosure, police said.

The home was purchased in 2001 with help from a loan backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, according to records obtained by The Orange County Register.

In 2007, the couple borrowed $462,000 from Countrywide Home Loans and began missing mortgage payments on that loan last year. The bank sent a notice in March that the home could be sold at public auction on April 1. At the time, interest and other charges added to the main loan had pushed the debt on the mortgage to nearly $500,000, the newspaper reported.

Civil court records also show that a woman identified in one case as Hermie G. Zickefoose and in another as Herminia Zickefoose had amassed more than $26,000 in debt on four credit cards, according to the Register.

The shooting was discovered Monday when a co-worker of Wayne Zickefoose stopped by because he had failed to show up for work at an auto body shop.

The 5-year-old boy came to the door and told the co-worker his parents had been shot. The co-worker's wife, who was waiting in a car, called 911, Martinez said.

When officers arrived, they found the female victim's body slumped over a lawn chair, and the man's body on the ground in the backyard near an empty pool. Zickefoose shot his wife execution-style in the back of the head.

"She probably did not see it coming," Martinez said.

A trail of blood led to the wounded 3-year-old.

The older boy has been placed on protective child custody. Zickefoose has family on the East Coast and his wife's family is in the Philippines, Martinez said.

A motorist reported hearing gunfire in the neighborhood Sunday night, but officers who responded were unable to locate where the shots came from and left.