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Lanark shudders after murder-suicide
LANARK VILLAGE A 71-year-old Lanark woman was shot and killed in her home last week by a former boyfriend, who then turned the gun on himself.
Franklin County Sheriff A.J. Smith said an inquiry into the whereabouts of Francine Weeks began shortly after 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 2, when deputies, asked to do a welfare check by her daughter, were dispatched to 10 West Pine Street.
Smith said deputies arrived at the home, where they discovered Weeks, sitting by her computer, dead from two gunshot wounds.
Brady Lee Kerce, 68, was found dead about five feet away, after he had apparently shot himself following his shooting of Weeks.
“Kerce shot Ms. Weeks and then turned the gun on himself and killed himself, said Smith in a Facebook live address Thursday morning, June 3.
He said there appeared to be no sign a struggle had taken place.
As we dig into Mr. Kerce’s background, we see that he has quite an extensive criminal record.” said the sheriff.
That criminal record includes Kerce serving a five-year prison sentence in Georgia for a homicide that occurred in 1975.
Kerce’s record in Franklin County, dating back to the mid-1990s, was limited to a DUI and assorted criminal traffic infractions, but Smith said he had several prior arrests, in both Georgia and Florida, for burglary and theft charges.
Piecing together what led up to the tragic turn of events reveals a woman, liked and respected in the community, who was trying to separate herself from Kerce.
“It was an on-again, off-again, thing,” Smith said. “He was kind of mean to her.
“My thoughts and prayers go out to the Weeks family, as well as to the folks of Lanark Village, said Smith. I know a lot of people knew Ms. Weeks and thought very highly of her. She was always helping folks and was a kind soul.
The sheriff said Weeks had not filed for a restraining order against Kerce. Friends who knew both of them she had asked him to leave her house, and had not invited him to return.
Smith said a person who finds themselves in an abusive, potentially violent domestic situation, can turn to his office for help.
“Theres Refuge House and we have a victim advocate who can be called,” he said. “If there’s battery involved, call us and let us intervene. Let us help.”
He said the sheriff’s office has been assisted in the investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Friends have posted several messages on Facebook recalling Weeks’ lively personality and friendly spirit.
was one of the sweetest, most kind-hearted people you would ever meet,” wrote Allison Kriss. “She was
incredibly witty and fun to be around, and her dogs and her family were
everything to her. She was a staple in this small community that will be
greatly missed. She touched so many people’s lives everywhere she went. This
whole family is full of amazing people, none of them deserve this.”
Kriss wrote that Kerce and his previous wife had been her family’s next door neighbors for many years. “We shared a wall in the
apartment where we lived,” she said.
“My parents were good friends of theirs for quite
some time. The only thing I will say is I guess as much as I thought I knew
this person, I really didn’t know him at all,” Kriss wrote. “His actions have caused so much
grief and devastation.”
Another friend, LeDonna Denmark, that it “hurts my heart hearing this.
Thank you for always having a smile on
your face when I used to come to your house to hang with the kids.”
Carrabelle Mayor Brenda La Paz said both Weeks and Kerce were known by friends at the American Legion Post.
“She was a dedicated and thoughtful member of the American Legion
Auxiliary Unit 82 in Lanark,” wrote La Paz. “Her kind deeds and gentle demeanor will be missed.
Praying for Fran’s family and friends. “