DA releases account of March homicide-suicide in east Salem

A man shot and killed his wife before fatally shooting himself in their east Salem home in late March, the Marion County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release Thursday, May 25.

Prosecutors say Juan Roque, 37, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after fatally shooting 38-year-old Kali Roque.

The district attorney’s statement comes seven weeks after the Marion County Sheriff’s Office announced the deaths without information about how they occurred.

Prosecutors gave the following account of the incident.

Kali Roque’s sister-in-law, Carrie Cheplic, hosted a sleepover with her niece, the oldest of the Roques’ two children on March 29. 

When Kali Roque did not respond to two separate texts the following morning, Cheplic took her niece back to the Roques’ home. No one answered the door, and Cheplic disarmed the home’s alarm and entered.

Cheplic found the Roques’ youngest child sleeping and uninjured, and changed the child’s diaper. She then found Roques in their guest bedroom with gunshot injuries and called 911 around 1 p.m.

Responding deputies cleared the home. “All entrances to the residence were locked and secure. There were no signs of forced entry nor did any valuables appear missing nor disturbed,” according to the news release.

Both Kali and Juan Roque had a gunshot injury to their right temple.

Deputies examined Kali Roque’s journal and cell phone and concluded she was not suicidal. 

Deputies also found two cell phones they believed belonged to Juan Roque but were not able to bypass security codes to review data. One of the phones displayed a loud sound notification at 10:10 p.m. on March 29, “which law enforcement presumes was a gunshot,” according to the statement.

Neighbors told police they didn’t observe anything suspicious the day before the incident or hear gunshots that evening.

A friend of Juan Roque’s told police the two had spoken the day before his death. Juan Roque said at the time he had been going through a lot since the death of his mother, that their marriage was ending and that he had been struggling with his mental health.

Juan Roque told his friend he had called a mental health helpline who encouraged him to leave his firearms with a friend and remove them from his home. He gave the friend’s name to the hotline as the person who could secure the guns.

“Later, the mental health line followed up with Juan Roque’s friend who did, in fact, assist Juan Roque in removing the guns from the house.  When he did so, he asked Juan Roque about a specific Taurus handgun that was not among the guns he received from Juan Roque. He knew that Juan Roque possessed that specific firearm from the times that they had been shooting together. Juan Roque indicated that he sold the Taurus to purchase a Glock 19 and stated that he no longer possessed the Taurus,” according to the statement from the district attorney’s office.

Detectives recovered a Taurus gun from the scene which was legally registered to Juan Roque. Forensic analysis of the gun and toxicology reports for the Roques are still pending.

Investigators did not find any information linking Kali Roque’s death to the November 2022 death of her mother, Theresa Hethorn, in Polk County. Kali Roque’s brother, Robin A. Hethorn, is charged with murder in that case.

“The Roque children are together with family,” the district attorney’s office said.

Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053.

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Ardeshir Tabrizian has covered criminal justice and housing for Salem Reporter since September 2021. As an Oregon native, his award-winning watchdog journalism has traversed the state. He has done reporting for The Oregonian, Eugene Weekly and Malheur Enterprise.