Man fatally shoots wife, mother-in-law in row over missing gun magazine

Pennsylvania firearms owner admits to cops he “went too far” after domestic dispute over mislaid ammo leads to double killing.

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mugshot of Frederick Lee Clea
Frederick Lee Clea
(County of Montgomery DA)

A Pennsylvania man shot dead his wife and mother-in-law at the weekend in an argument over a misplaced gun magazine, authorities said.

Frederick Lee Clea, 57, admitted to responding cops he “went too far” after allegedly gunning down his 41-year-old wife, Latiya, and her 75-year-old mother, Mekenda Sanders, at their family home in Cheltenham on Saturday.

Frederick confessed during a police interview to killing the women following a heated exchange with his wife about a mislaid gun magazine, according to the criminal complaint.

He told detectives that he began arguing with his wife in their bedroom when he couldn’t find a loaded magazine for his firearm and “recalled her having possession of it the night before,” the arrest affidavit states.

After Frederick “ransacked” the bedroom looking for the ammo, he stormed downstairs with a loaded 9mm handgun he had bought earlier in the year and found his wife and mother-in-law putting away groceries in the kitchen.

Frederick explained to police that, as the row continued, he “just started shooting,” the criminal complaint says.

He allegedly told investigators that his wife and mother-in-law “did nothing wrong” before he shot them, and that his mother-in-law had not been involved in the original argument.

Cops were dispatched to the family’s home following a call just after noon Saturday about a domestic disturbance.

On the 911 recording, a female voice can be heard saying “Why did you do that? Why did you do that…look at my leg, look at my leg,” according to the complaint.

A gunshot sound is then heard 20 seconds into the call, followed by three more gunshots 12 seconds later, investigators said.

Frederick answered the door to police, telling officers that he “went too far” and that he “shot them,” the arrest affidavit alleges.

Latiya and Sanders were found with apparent gunshot wounds and pronounced dead at the scene, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said.

An autopsy found that Latiya sustained five gunshot wounds while Sanders suffered a single gunshot wound to the chest.

Detectives recovered a Glock semi-automatic handgun and eight fired cartridge cases at the scene, according to court papers.

Two children aged 5 and 10 who were inside the home at the time of the shooting were said to be unharmed and are now staying with relatives.

Police had previously responded to the Clea residence twice over domestic violence incidents, most recently last December, according to court documents.

“The combination of a recently purchased gun and anger toward his wife and mother-in-law proved deadly,” Steele said in a statement. “Tragically, two young children are now left without parents and a grandparent in their lives, and the defendant faces spending the rest of his life in prison.”

Frederick was charged with two counts of first- and third-degree murder, as well as possessing an instrument of crime.

He is being held without bail at the Montgomery County Correctional Center, and has a preliminary hearing set for August 6.

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