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Motive in triple homicide still a mystery

Bodies of mother, sons were found in basement near marijuana grow operation

The mystery surrounding a triple homicide deepened Tuesday as new details emerged that the killer, before taking his own life, claimed in phone calls to his father and a friend to have awakened from a night of partying to find himself surrounded by dead bodies.

Spokane police, however, gave no indication that they’re any closer to learning why Dustin William Gilman, 22, would kill 32-year-old Tracy Ann Ader and her two sons, Damien, 10, and Kadin, 8, at the north Spokane home they all shared with Ader’s husband.

Also disclosed for the first time Tuesday was that police found a marijuana grow operation at the Aders’ home at 4411 N. Whitehouse St., which reportedly was equipped with video surveillance and firearms.

Police found Gilman dead Monday in a wooded area north of Spokane with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head.

Gilman called his father Friday before the crime scene had been discovered and confessed to having shot someone, according to newly released court documents. The elder Gilman contacted 911 about 6:38 p.m. to report the disturbing phone call from his son, marking the first indication for police that something was amiss.

Larry Gilman told police that his son told him he’d been “partying all night on the South Hill” when he woke up with a gun and a dead person next to him. Dustin Gilman told his father he was not going back to jail, police say. The conversation ended with several gunshots.

Then at 7:14 p.m., Gilman’s half-brother, Travis O’Kelly, called 911 to report a dead woman at the Aders’ home. Police arrived and found the bodies of the two boys as well. Tracy Ader’s husband, Nick, was in the hospital.

Families of the suspect and victims say they have no idea why Gilman would have wanted to kill the three, with whom he’d been living for several months.

Detectives haven’t corroborated Gilman’s claims to his father about a party on the South Hill or waking up next to a dead person. They believe he called his father from Damien’s cellphone. They also believe Gilman called a female friend about 5 p.m. and told her “he had blacked out and when he woke up there were dead bodies around him,” police said.

Ader’s sister visited the home Thursday night with her 1-year-old child and noticed nothing out of the ordinary, said her stepfather, Steve Ponsness. When she left that night, Gilman was sitting on the couch watching TV, Ponsness said.

Police believe Ader and her sons had been dead for several hours when they found them Friday night because their bodies were cold. Ader was partially clothed, lying face down on a mattress in the basement with her hands bound behind her back and duct tape over her mouth. The boys were found near a marijuana growing operation in the northwest corner of the basement.

Police say the boys and their mother each had something tied around their necks and appeared to have been strangled, though official autopsy results are pending.

Detectives swabbed for DNA evidence throughout the home and seized clothing and blankets.

They also seized a video camera and noted in court documents a surveillance video system that may contain footage was stored within the home. Detectives also took guns from the home, as well as bullets, electric cords, pieces of cut rope and other possible evidence.

They also found a note on a table but have not disclosed its contents.

Gilman had been staying with the Aders for about four months, O’Kelly told police.

Ader had been visiting her husband at a hospital Friday morning when she returned home to check on the boys. Nick Ader grew concerned when he hadn’t heard from her for several hours.

O’Kelly, who is friends with Nick Ader, crawled through a dog door at the home that evening and made the 7:14 p.m. 911 call after finding a woman dead in the basement.

O’Kelly told police he went there to check on his half-brother after his sister called and said Gilman “had killed somebody, then shot himself,” according the search warrant.

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