Posted by Cathy Gowdy on Saturday, December 13, 2014 at 10:13:25 :
Thursday, December 29, 1960
Mill Valleyan Murders Wife, Takes Own Life
Mayor Makes Vain Try To Halt Fatal Quarrel
Jean Eldridge Sooy, about 40, an attractive Mill Valley cosmetician, was shot to death by her estranged husband, Ralph C. Sooy, in the front yard of their home last night, after which Sooy turned his .22 caliber pistol on himself. He died of the gunshot would at 6:15 a.m. today.
The shootings climaxed a violent quarrel which Mayor Robert D. Huber, whose home is next door to that of the Sooys, tried without success to stop. The mayor was ordered away by Sooy almost as the latter squeezed the trigger of the death gun.
The double slaying ended a marriage which began in Reno on March 26, 1949, and which was scheduled to wind up in a divorce hearing before Superior Judge Thomas F. Keating on Jan. 3.
Mrs. Sooy filed for divorce Nov. 22, charging cruelty. She alleged her husband had inflicted physical force and violence and recently threatened further violence. She asked the court for a restraining order and was arranging to have the locks on the house at 389 Throckmorton Avenue changed to keep her husband from entering.
But Sooy, 49-year-old assistant poundmaster for the Marin County Humane Society, went to the home last night. The quarrel that followed ended in what Police Chief James M. McGowan said was the first murder in Mill Valley since he joined the police force in 1937.
Mayor Huber and his wife Jean, in their home at 365 Throckmorton, heard the door of the gray-shingled Sooy home slam at 9:25 p.m. Mrs. Huber went onto the Huber back porch, then called her husband.
“There’s a terrific fight going on ober there,” she said.
Huber went to the telephone and called police.
There had been other fights between Sooy and Mrs. Sooy, he said, “with him chasing her around the house and hitting her.”
As Huber hung up the telephone, his wife called “She’s run out of the house. Help her into out front door.”
“I ran out the front door and got about five feet short of their gate and Sooy yelled, “Get away from here, Bob!” the mayor related. Almost instantly two shots went off.
“I fell down beside my car in the driveway when I heard the shots. Then I ran back into my house and on the way back I heard another shot. I called the police again,” the mayor related.
Lt. Charles McCourtney and office Carl Mead Jr. arrived within minutes. “When I got there the Sooys were lying behind the gate in the front yard inside the fence,” said Office Mead. “I looked over the fence and saw Sooy lying there groaning and Mrs. Sooy lying on her back with blood coming out of the back of her neck. The pistol was lying between them.
“I couldn’t get through the gate because the man was lying against it. City Manager (A. E.) Almerants hoisted me over the six-foot picket fence and I ran around and got the pistol, a .22 high standard automatic Colt, which I gave to Almerants.
“Robert Hackney, an ambulance driver, jumped the fence and helped move Sooy so we could open the gate. Then Asst. Fire Chief Joe Regalia arrived with the fire truck.”
Mead said that during this time the Sooys’ black shaggy dog, Maggie, kept barking.
Mrs. Sooy was alive when I got there,” Mead said, “but by this time she didn’t appear to be breathing. We put them on stretchers and put them in the ambulance.”
Dr. Rutherford Gillfillan of 519 Throckmorton arrived and he pronounced Mrs. Sooy dead at about 9:50 p.m.
Sooy was taken to Marin General Hospital where he died this morning.
Mead continued “We found Sooy’s pickup parked at 123 Cascade Drive about two blocks away from the house. The holster of Sooy’s gun was lying on the floorboard of t he truck.
Apparently he parked there, walked up Laurel Street to the alley behind the house. There was nothing broken on the door and so we gather she let him in.
Mead said that it was his belief that the murder was premeditated. He went up there with one main purpose – to kill her, he theorized.
Sooy shot his wife below the right ear and the bullet went through her head and emerged below the left ear, the officer said. Sooy shot himself through the head at the right temple.
Mead said Mrs. Sooy had evidently been watching television when her husband arrived at the house. She was wearing pajamas and a house coat and slippers.
Sooy had worked for the humane society as a kennel man. He had also worked, Mead said, as a part time bar gender at the Old Mill Tavern and at Meet the Quinns in Mill Valley. He was a retired Navy man.
Mrs. Sooy had worked about one and one-half years at the Bon Air pharmacy in Greenbrae, where she sold cosmetics and also handled the post office. She previously sold cosmetics at Macy’s in San Rafael, and Mayer’s in Mill Valley.
A friend with whom she rode to work, Mrs. John R. Loser of 44 Sycamore Avenue, Mill Valley, said she dropped Mrs. Sooy off at her home at about 6:15 last night. She did not seem to be particularly upset.
“She was deathly afraid of her husband – there was nothing that could change that fear,” Mrs. Lose said. “Sooy wanted a reconciliation but Jean didn’t.”
Mrs. Joe M. Smith, of 126 Sunnyside Avenue, Mill Valley, who also rode in Mrs. Loser’s car, said: “Jean was petrified of him. She wanted her locks changed on her doors but couldn’t get anybody to do it because she couldn’t get anybody in the daytime when she was at work.”
Huber said the Sooys had lived in Mill Valley about eight years, living downstairs in their house while they were trying to get around to finishing the upstairs.
The marriage to Sooy was the second for his wife. They had no children.
Both bodies were taken to Russell and Gooch Mortuary in Mill Valley.
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