Police: Mayor of small Kentucky town shot dead in his home

Thomas Joseph Lattus

(CBS/AP) HICKMAN, Ky. - Authorities say the mayor of a small Kentucky town was shot dead Monday morning in his home, and a suspect turned himself in shortly after the incident.

30-year-old Thomas Joseph Lattus walked into the Hickman police station around 1 a.m. and told an officer he had just shot Mayor Charles Murphy. Police Chief Tony Grogan said an officer went to the mayor's home and found his body in the bedroom.

Lattus has been charged with murder and is being held at the Fulton County Jail.

"As far as clear motive, I would assume that it's just that he didn't like him," Grogan told The Associated Press.

The mayor's brother and neighbor, Fred Murphy, said his nephew told him Monday that the mayor had been concerned when Lattus visited his house in recent days. The mayor asked his son to call periodically to check on his welfare, Fred Murphy said.

The mayor had dated the suspect's stepmother, Carole Lattus, on and off for years, according to the police chief and other friends and family.

"Sometimes they broke up, sometimes they got back together," Grogan said.

City Commissioner Charles Choate said he knew of the relationship, but he was unaware of whether Lattus was upset by it.

Melissa Somerfield, the mayor's neighbor for 22 years, has known Lattus since he was young. "He's been unstable for quite a while, at least the last six years," Somerfield said.

Lattus' stepmother, Carole Lattus, was out of the country when the incident occurred. Thomas Lattus was adopted when he was a boy, Harris said. The relationship between the mayor and Carole Lattus was common knowledge.

"I didn't think Tommy cared much about it," Somerfield said. However, she said his behavior led her to believe he was unstable, citing an incident in church, where he had a singing outburst.

"He just got up out of the blue and started singing aloud. People went and started telling his mother that things were not right with him," she said.

Murphy, a retired school principal, was in his second term as mayor. He previously served on the Hickman city board of commissioners. Choate described Murphy as a small farmer who loved to spend time on his property.

Lattus is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday.