Couple found dead inside home believed to be murder-suicide

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ORMOND BEACH, Fla. - Investigators are trying to determine whether marital or medical problems led to an apparent murder-suicide near Ormond Beach.

A couple was found dead inside their home on East Woodhaven Circle late Tuesday just before midnight, according to Volusia County authorities.

They also found a gun and a note inside the home on Woodhaven Circle.

Based on evidence at the scene, investigators said they believe that James Ryals, 73, killed his wife, Joyce Ryals, 74, and then killed himself.

The scene was so quiet, neighbor Stacy Stemmle didn't know deputies were next door.

"I mean, who would expect that?" asked Stemmle. "I'm thinking, 'That's Jimmy's house,' and of course, at first, you think, 'That can't be right,' then you come outside and you see all the trucks."

WFTV learned the couple had a troubled history.

Problems brought investigators to the home a year ago, responding to a domestic disturbance.

The couple told deputies at the time that their marriage had always been hard and they slept in separate beds.

However, deputies said they do not believe Wednesday's incident was a domestic dispute.

Investigators said they received a call from a person in New Jersey who was concerned about the couple.

Deputies said when they arrived for a well-being check they found the couple in the bathroom dead from gunshot wounds.

"We know there were some health issues. We know that there were some problems in the marriage. What exactly the trigger was we don't know at this time and quite frankly we may never know," said Gary Davidson of the Volusia County Sheriff's Office.

But neighbors never thought it would lead to their deaths. The home is surrounded by trees, and neighbors said the only time they'd see the couple was when they went out to check their mail.

"They were quiet. They were older. Especially this past year, we just assumed it was health reasons that kept them inside," Stemmle said.

Investigators said the note, a final goodbye, did not give clues as to what went wrong.