Surviving twin: She, dead sister made suicide pact

ENGLEWOOD — The surviving Australian twin told officials during emotional questioning that she and her sister were trying to carry out a suicide pact at a state park shooting range, but the reason why they wanted to die remains a mystery.

Investigators say each woman shot herself in the head with ammunition bought at at Family Shooting Center, one using a rented .22-caliber revolver and the other a rented .22-caliber semiautomatic handgun.

One of the sisters died at the range in suburban Denver Monday, while another suffered a serious head wound. She’s recovering and told Arapahoe County Sheriff’s investigators of the pact.

The 29-year-old woman wouldn’t say why she and her sister wanted to commit suicide, Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Capt. Louie Perea said Thursday. No charges are expected to be filed against her.

Denver station KDVR-TV identified them as Kristin and Candace Hermeler, taking their names from an affidavit that was filed by sheriff’s deputies to search the women’s hotel room and luggage. Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson confirmed the affidavit was accurate, but declined to formally release the names Thursday in deference to the family.

Their relatives are set to arrive in Colorado on Friday afternoon.

The surviving sister remains hospitalized in serious condition. She told officials the two planned to commit suicide together and that they shot themselves at the range, Perea said.

Physical evidence and surveillance video from the range supports that claim, he said.

“She was angry, upset, frustrated — any of the range of emotions one must feel,” Perea said of the surviving sister. “But she still allowed us to complete an interview.

The 29-year-old sisters who are from Australia’s Victoria state had been in the Denver area for about five weeks. Perea said one sister underwent gun training two weeks before the shooting, with both showing up at the range about a week later for additional gun training.

On Monday, the sisters took a taxi to the range from their hotel about six miles away and rented the pistols. They took target practice on a chilly afternoon, prompting one sister to borrow a jacket, Perea said.

They initially shared a stall that demarced a shooting lane next to another patron who was firing a high-powered rifle. After complaining about the noise coming from the stall next to them, range staff moved them to Lane 18.

“I don’t know if they did that to be in a more secluded area or what,” Perea said.

That’s where one of the sisters left to place the jacket on a nearby table — apparently deciding against wearing borrowed clothing for what was to follow — and returned to make good on a suicide pact.

A short time later, surveillance video captured the suicide and suicide attempt. It showed the sisters falling out of the stall about a half-second apart, with other patrons quickly reacting, Perea said.

The twins had been at the range about an hour and 20 minutes.

Authorities are waiting for copies of the women’s fingerprints from immigration officials. Investigators originally didn’t know which twin died and which one survived because they looked so much alike.

No suicide note was found, and investigators have said a search of the twins’ luggage revealed nothing.

It’s not clear what the women were doing in the United States.


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