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Family in shock over deaths of Warren woman, grandson suspected of killing her


WARREN, Mich. – Sometimes, before a tragedy, there can be warning signs, but those who knew Rene Morrissette said they had no reason to believe she could be in any danger.

In fact, some said they were optimistic by her new living arrangement with her grandson, Damon Austin Barstad.

Barstad and Morrissette died within hours of each other. 

ORIGINAL STORY: Warren grandmother murder suspect killed while trying to take Toledo officer's weapon, police say

James Cools said his mother had everything ready for Christmas. She was supposed to be hosting the family Saturday. Instead, the family gathered at her Warren home because it had become a crime scene.

"She loved everyone," Cools said.

Police found her body stowed in a recycling bin in her garage. Barstad was arrested in Toledo and was killed in police custody when he reached for an officer's weapon, authorities said. 

"Regardless of what my nephew had done, we still lost two people in this family," Cools said.

The family thought it was a good thing when Barstad came to stay with Morrissette. He was a help, and there were no signs he could have been a danger to anyone.

"That's what's so shocking. It's so shocking," Cools said. "We just don't understand what happened."

Now, both are gone, and the family wants answers.

"It makes no sense," Cools said. "If it had been money, we would have given it to him. ... I don't understand."

The family still plans to gather at her home Saturday to honor her.


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