Suspect charged in Slater double homicide

By Nicole Cooke -


Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include a more recent mugshot of the suspect, which is from his arrest this weekend. A previous version of this article included a mugshot from a previous arrest in an unrelated incident.

SALINE COUNTY — The suspect in last week’s Slater double homicide has been charged with two counts of first degree murder.

Two Saline County residents, Ryan W. Sanders, 35, and Bonnie Charlene Hupp, 83, died in separate locations Thursday as a result of gunshot wounds. Suspect Donald Bruce Owens, 57, of Marshall, was interviewed and arrested Friday.

According to court documents, the Slater Police Department received a report of shots fired just before 2 a.m. Thursday in the 800 block of Park Place in Slater. Sanders was found in front of his residence with multiple gunshot wounds and transported to the hospital, where he died.

Around 8 a.m. Thursday, the Sheriff’s Department was notified of a deceased subject, Hupp, in a residence in the 30000 block of Nickel, located in Saline County.

Sanders was identified as the husband of Hupp’s granddaughter.

A witness told law enforcement officers they heard multiple gunshots and observed a white male, familiar to them as Sanders’ father-in-law, walking away from the area of Sanders’ residence toward his daughter’s home.

A short time later, the witness saw a white-colored van drive away from the roadway in front of Owens’ daughter’s residence without using headlights. The Marshall Police Department had taken a report around 7:30 a.m. Thursday that a subject’s white minivan was missing and that Owens, who lived in the subject’s home, was also missing.

“The witness said (Owens) had recently been behaving in an odd manner and making statements that his life was over and he hated Ryan Sanders,” court documents state.

Another witness told officers they last talked with Owens last week and he had been “upset and ranting” about Sanders.

Owens was interviewed Friday and admitted to shooting both victims, saying he shot Sanders several times.

He said he killed Sanders to protect a family member involved in legal proceedings against Sanders. He said he killed Hupp after Sanders, based on a long-standing belief she was responsible for his divorce.

Owens also told officers he knew a child was in the next room at Hupp’s residence so he used a pillow to muffle the sound, which is consistent with a pillow found by officers in the Hupp residence that had a “dark-colored substance which would be consistent with having a firearm discharged through it.” The child was found sleeping by the first witness to arrive at Hupp’s residence.

Owens has been charged with two counts of first degree murder, two counts of armed criminal action, and first degree burglary. Owens is being held at the Saline County Jail without bond. A hearing for counsel status has been scheduled for 9 a.m. Wednesday at the Saline County Courthouse with Judge Hugh Craig Harvey.

The Saline County Sheriff’s Department worked with both Slater PD and the Missouri State Highway Patrol Division of Drug and Crime Control on the investigation.


By Nicole Cooke

Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or @NicoleRCooke.

Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or @NicoleRCooke.

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