ANAHEIM – A couple found dead in an apparent murder-suicide that also left their 3-year-old son critically wounded were awash in credit-card debt and about to lose their home to foreclosure, records show.
Wayne and Herminia Zickefoose were found in their backyard with gunshot wounds to their heads, police said. Their 3-year-old son, shot at least three times, remained in critical condition Tuesday. His 5-year-old brother was not hurt.
Wayne Zickefoose, 51, was born in Wisconsin and appears to have authored Internet posts in which he professed to be an investment expert and a mystic healer. Herminia Zickefoose, 39, is a native of Baguio, in the Philippines, according to a website listing for Wayne Zickefoose’s business, Trojan Auto Service in Buena Park.
Police did not identify the children, but said the 5-year-old – who alerted his father’s colleague to what happened – was in protective custody with the county’s Social Services Agency.
Public records show that the Zickefooses bought their house in the 500 block of North Fairhaven Street in Anaheim in 2001 with help from a loan backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The couple borrowed against the house five times during the following six years, but paid off most of those loans, records show.
Most recently, the couple borrowed $462,000 in January 2007, records show. They began missing mortgage payments on that loan in February 2009. They owed nearly $14,000 in back payments by May 2009, when the bank warned them it would foreclose if they didn’t make their payments, records show.
The bank sent another notice in March of this year, saying the home “may be sold at a public sale” on April 1. At the time, interest and other charges added to the main loan had pushed the Zickefooses’ debt on the mortgage to $491,960.18, records show.
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.
Police said they were looking into the couple’s money problems as part of the investigation.
Herminia Zickefoose was found in a chair in the backyard with a gunshot wound to her head. Wayne Zickefoose was found in another area of the backyard, near a fence that blocks off a swimming pool, also with a gunshot wound to the head.
Police believe Wayne Zickefoose used a handgun to kill his wife and shoot his 3-year-old son before turning the gun on himself at around 8 p.m. The 3-year-old boy spent Sunday night hiding behind trash cans at the side of the house, fearing for his life, police say.
He was shot in the chest, shoulder and abdomen and underwent surgery on Monday.
“That little boy had nowhere to go,” said Sgt. Rick Martinez of the Anaheim police. “He was in essence trapped (in the backyard). It’s very, very sad.”