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Teacher stabbed in front of class by husband

Man later killed himself
February 8, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
His schoolteacher wife had left him and filed for divorce. A young woman he was seeing may have had second thoughts about her relationship with an older man. William Michael Layne stabbed them both - his estranged wife in front of her fifth-grade class in Portsmouth and the other woman in an alley behind her home. Then he put a shotgun in his mouth and ended it, police said.

Christi Layne, 53, was in critical but stable condition Friday after surgery at Cabell Hospital in Huntington, W.Va., Portsmouth Police Chief Charles Horner said. Stephanie Loop, 22, was in the same condition at Grant Medical Center in Columbus, the chief said.

Christi Layne's students at Notre Dame Elementary School saw her husband barge into the classroom and stab her Thursday morning. Layne fled, attacking Loop a few blocks from the school.

Police tracked him to his home near the Ohio River, surrounded it and finally found the 56-year-old dead after a standoff.

Loop's cousin, Chrissy Shepherd, told the Portsmouth Daily Times that Layne considered Loop his girlfriend.

"I don't know if he feared she was abandoning him or what," she told the paper for a story published Friday.

Officials were still sorting out other parts of the story, the chief said. They had declined to talk about details of the attacks, the motive, weapons and what was found in Layne's home.

Shepherd told the newspaper that Loop had called her Wednesday night to ask for a ride home from Layne's house. On Thursday morning, he attacked Loop as the two women returned home from a visit to a tattoo parlor, Shepherd said.

"He kept slashing at her, but for the most part, the knife was just ripping her coat," she said. "We jumped inside and I locked the door - locked the front door, too - and called 911."

She said Loop had stab wounds in the chest and left shoulder.

"I sat with her on the couch and held pressure on her wounds until the police and ambulance came," Shepherd said.

Christi Layne had left her husband and had filed for divorce Jan. 25, about the time Horner said police were summoned to quell a domestic dispute. She had said her husband threatened her and her son the day after Christmas, and a judge ordered him on Jan. 15 to stay at least 100 yards from her because she feared for her safety.

"He said I better enjoy myself because it will be soon," she wrote in a request for a restraining order. "I am afraid that he will hurt me or my son when he is mad."

Next-door neighbor Jim Arnzen said Layne had a security system installed before she moved into the apartment complex about two months ago. She had hired an attorney, George Davis III, to file her divorce petition. He declined to talk about the case Friday.

Jack Freeland, a neighbor of Mike Layne's, said he had a temper.

"If he didn't like something, he'd tell you straight up how it was," Freeland said.

Layne was friendly, but sometimes acted strangely, he said. For example, he saw Layne digging in his yard in the middle of the night.

Mayor Jim Kalb said he knew Layne, a retired city water works employee, but not well. Those who did spoke highly of him, the mayor said.

"It was just one of those cases," Kalb said, "where you hear that people snap."


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