Motive in Slater, Missouri double homicide revealed

Donald Owens

(KOMU) – A probable cause statement obtained Monday said Donald Bruce Owens admitted to “shooting and killing two people in retaliation for causing what he perceived to be problems in his life and the life of his family.” 

The Slater Police Department responded to a shots fired call in Slater at 1:42 a.m. on Thursday, June 9. Ryan Sanders, 35, was found in front of his home with multiple gunshot wounds. Sanders was transported by Slater EMS to an area hospital and died as a result of his injuries. 

Later that day, at 8:18 a.m., the Saline County Sheriff’s Department was notified Bonnie Charlene Hupp, 83, had been found dead in her home outside the city limits of Slater in Saline County. Owens told authorities he knew a child was in the room next to Hupp and he used a pillow to muffle the sound of the firearm, in an effort to not wake up the child. 

Sanders is the estranged husband of Hupp’s granddaughter and Owens is the father of Sanders’ estranged wife.

A witness said they saw a white van drive away from Sanders’ estranged wife’s house. 

According to the Marshall Police Department, at 7:30 a.m. on June 9, another witness reported their white van and two handguns were missing. The witness also said Owens, a resident of her home, was missing and he “had recently been behaving in an odd manner and making statements that his life was over and he hated Ryan Sanders,” according to the probable cause statement. 

An additional witness described Owens as “upset and ‘ranting’ over Sanders not agreeing to alternate weekends of child visitation with [Owens’] daughter to facilitate a trip planned for June 11 and June 12,” according to the probable cause statement. 

Owens was interviewed by law enforcement on June 10 and admitted to shooting both victims. He said he shot Sanders several times to protect a family member involved in legal proceedings against Sanders. He said he killed Hupp because of a long-standing belief she was responsible for his divorce.