Crime - Sacto 911

Coroner rules it was murder-suicide in Davis

Candles were placed in a patio in front of Gladys Valley Hall, part of UC Davis’ veterinary teaching compound, at the vigil Saturday night for Whitney Engler.
Candles were placed in a patio in front of Gladys Valley Hall, part of UC Davis’ veterinary teaching compound, at the vigil Saturday night for Whitney Engler. apierleoni@sacbee.com

The Yolo County Sheriff’s Office-Coroner has ruled that a UC Davis veterinary student was killed and her roommate took his own life.

Whitney Engler, 27, and Joseph Hein, 23, were found dead early Friday on the second floor of their west Davis duplex, seven hours after police surrounded the home.

Engler died after being shot in the head and chest, a coroner’s official said Tuesday. Hein died from a self-inflicted gunshot to the head.

Police surrounded the home following a 911 call Thursday night. The caller said two people – a man and a woman – were dead from gunshot wounds, according to authorities.

Police tried to communicate with no results throughout the evening with whoever was in the house. They said they approached the situation cautiously because of the potential for a gunman lying in wait. At 1:30 a.m. Friday, SWAT officers entered the building after sending tear gas inside.

Davis police said that the case was a murder-suicide.

Engler was a student at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and was expected to graduate in May.

Dennis Engler said his daughter was not in a romantic relationship with Hein and that the pair had developed a friendship through cycling. He said she did not own any weapons.

Engler’s parents said they are perplexed about what could have led to their daughter’s death.

“It’s mystifying,” Dennis Engler said. “Nothing I’ve learned leads to even a hint of an explanation, which might never be forthcoming.”

A celebration of Whitney Engler’s life is scheduled for Friday in Davis.

Call The Bee’s Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079. Bee staff writer Richard Chang contributed to this report.

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