Deaths in burned home ruled murder-suicide

SANTEE, Calif. -- A Santee couple whose bodies were found over New Year's weekend in the charred rubble of their foreclosed home died in a murder-suicide carried out by the husband, authorities confirmed Thursday.

Michael Cour, 60, and his wife, Janice Gervais, 70, each died of a gunshot wound to the head, according to the county Medical Examiner's Office. Cour's wound was self-inflicted, and Gervais' death was deemed a homicide.

Shortly after 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Cour made an emergency call and told a dispatcher he was going to kill his wife, set fire to their Clifford Heights Road house and then commit suicide. He also threatened to shoot anyone who tried to interfere with the rampage, according to sheriff's officials.

Within an hour, the home was engulfed in flames, and pops that sounded like discharging ammunition were sounding from inside. A next-door home sustained minor damage during the fire.

Investigators recovered the couple's bodies from the blackened remnants of the residence on Sunday.

Neighbor Ruth Taloza told reporters that Cour had come to her house earlier in the day to drop off an air compressor. She said that when she walked across the street to thank him, he said he and his wife were being evicted, and that Gervais had cancer. The blaze erupted about a half-hour later.

Another neighbor said Cour had threatened to kill himself and stated that had a gun shortly before the couple's house burned down.

Cour and Gervais reportedly filed for bankruptcy last summer, and a bank foreclosed on their home Dec. 6.