Children Of Couple Grieve After Rural Slaying-suicide

November 25, 1990|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff writer

Sidney L. Roberts Jr. remembers the closeness he shared with his family, raising horses at their Monkton farm and traveling to horse shows throughout the state.

After his parents, Sidney Roberts Sr. and Helen Roberts, divorced about a year ago, Roberts said his brother and two sisters maintained close ties to each other and both parents.

Now, the family is struggling with grief after, police say, Helen Roberts shot and killed her former husband outside his Jarrettsville home last Sunday and then shot herself.

The family held funeral services for Helen Roberts at Grace English Evangelical Lutheran Church near Towson on Friday morning. On Friday afternoon, the family had services for Sidney Sr. at St. James Episcopal Church near Monkton. Both were buried at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens.

"We loved them both," said Sidney Jr., of Norrisville. "It's a shame. .

. . I think you never say enough to your parents. You don't have time to say those things when they're gone."

The body of Sidney Roberts Sr. was found early Monday morning in the driver's seat of his blue 1980 Mercedes, state police at Benson said. The car was parked in the driveway of his home in the 3700 block of Jarrettsville Pike.

Roberts was shot three times in the chest with a .38-caliber handgun by his former wife, say police. The woman then killed herself by firing two shots into her chest, said Sgt. B. J. Caudill, a state police spokesman.

Helen Roberts' body was found in the driver's seat of her gray 1986 Mercedes, which was parked behind her former husband's car in a parking area at his house, Caudill said. The house is situated in the horse farm country of western Harford.

Police said the shooting occurred around 5 p.m. Sunday, but the bodies were not found until 12:30 a.m. on Monday. The bodies were discovered by the Roberts' daughter, Margaret J. Williams, of Jarrettsville, police said.

Investigators are not sure why Helen Roberts went to her husband's home or what prompted her to shoot him and then herself, Caudill said. But police say they were told by family friends that Roberts had threatened several times in the past to kill her former husband.

"We'll never know what exactly happened," Caudill said. "Only those two know what happened or what was said."

Sidney Roberts Sr., 57, had owned the Bel Air Exxon service station at 209 Baltimore Pike since 1979 and another Exxon station in Baltimore with his son, Sidney Jr., since 1987.

Helen Roberts, 52, of Timonium, had owned an Exxon station in Hereford, Baltimore County, since 1987. Sidney Jr. was the station manager.

Before the divorce, the Roberts family lived on a 54-acre farm on Irish Avenue in Monkton. Between 1964 and 1974, the family had raised or boarded 42 horses, Sidney Roberts Jr. said.

"(Horse-raising) was a pleasure for us," Roberts said. "But it also was a business."

The Roberts had been married for about 35 years when they divorced about a year ago, their son said.

"When the kids grew up and moved out, they had less and less in common," Roberts said of his parents. "I think they just grew apart."

Roberts said his mother spent more time on horses and boating while his father focused on golfing and flying planes.

Roberts declined to comment on what may have led to the shootings on Sunday.

Caudill, the police spokesman, gave the following account of the shooting: Helen Roberts went to her former husband's house around 4:30 p.m., parking her car across the street from the house. At some point, Roberts went out of his house to talk to her.

While sitting in her car Helen Roberts then fired three shots at Sidney Sr., who was standing in his driveway about 15 feet away. After being shot, he managed to get inside his car.

"He either wanted to get away from her or get to the hospital for treatment," Caudill said.

Helen Roberts then shot herself twice in the chest.

One neighbor told investigators that he saw the Roberts together and heard the shots, but didn't report it because he thought they were setting off fireworks, Caudill said.

Roberts was expected for dinner at her daughter's Jarrettsville home that evening. When she didn't arrive, Williams began making calls to find her mother.

Williams then called her father's home. When there was no answer, she went to the house, where she found the bodies, police said.

Sidney Sr.'s neighbors said they did not know him very well. The houses in the rural neighborhood are far apart, and neighbors said they keep to themselves.

One neighbor, Linda Andrisani, said she remembers often seeing the Roberts with their four children at horse shows.

"They were a very nice family," said Andrisani, who also raises horses.

"They did a lot of things together."

But that was about 15 years ago, and the two families had since lost touch with each other, Andrisani said.

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