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Disgruntled Former Bank Worker Arrested In Deaths Of Family Of 3

Her bosses at Bank One had warned Tracy Stevens about someone who was harassing her. She turned down their offer of security and planned instead to go to police on Monday.

On Sunday, she and her husband, who also worked at the bank, and their 4-month-old daughter were shot and killed by a former bank employee, police said. A woman wounded in the attacks also is a bank employee.

Jerry Hessler was upset over being fired from the bank more than a year ago, police said.

He was arrested after an unsuccessful attempt to enter another home, that of Judy Stanton, a woman he had dated at least 15 years ago, police said. A friend, watching television coverage of the shooting spree, had recalled their relationship and tipped her off.

Stanton, her husband, Douglas, and their four children, 5 to 13 years old, were met by Hessler as they tried to rush out their back door. They slammed it shut, but he fired three shots into the door and kicked it open.

The husband, armed with two handguns, returned the fire and hit Hessler in the chest. But he was wearing a bulletproof vest and fled in his car.

He was captured a short time later on a road in Ashland, 75 miles from Columbus.

Hessler, 38, was being held in jail Monday, charged with felonious assault. More charges are expected.

Neither Stanton, 38, nor her husband and children were hurt.

Hessler, from suburban Westerville, was angry about being fired from the credit card division of Bank One after he had been accused of sexual harassment, police said.

“There must have been” trouble between Hessler and the victims, bank spokesman John Russell said. Hessler “left for cause” in October 1994 after about a year and a half, Russell said.

The spree began when Hessler broke into a Columbus home and killed Stevens, 25, her 36-year-old husband, Brian, and their 4-month-old daughter, police said.

A bank co-worker living temporarily with the Stevenses, Ruth Canter, 33, was wounded. She was hospitalized in stable condition.

Stevens’ 7-year-old son also was in the house but hid from the gunman and wasn’t wounded.