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Crime & Courts

Autopsies: Avila dad intoxicated during rampage, arson

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Published:   |   Updated: June 24, 2014 at 06:12 AM

In their search for answers to explain why a seemingly well-adjusted family man killed his wife and two children last month and then set their posh Avila home on fire before turning the gun on himself, detectives got little help from the autopsies, which were released Monday.

Darrin Campbell, who shot each member of his family in the head, was intoxicated at the time, but there were no other substances in his system that may provide a clue as to why he did what he did.

Campbell’s autopsy report said he had a blood-alcohol level of 0.11. In Florida, and most states, people are considered legally drunk with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or higher.

Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputies say Campbell, 49, shot and killed his wife, Kimberly, 51, and two children, Collin, 18, and Megan, 16, in the $1.6 million rented home they shared in the exclusive community of Avila before setting fire to the house and killing himself.

The autopsy confirmed that Campbell’s cause of death was a single gunshot wound to the left temple.

The report said he had traces of antihistamine and a cough suppressant in his system and traces of a compound that is produced when smoke is inhaled. No other substances were found, the autopsy report said.

“There’s nothing out of the ordinary,” said Julie Pearson, chief forensic toxicologist with the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office, which conducted the autopsy. “It was a pretty benign toxicology report. If they are looking for answers to explain his behavior, they will have to look elsewhere.”

Campbell was a healthy man with no evidence of illnesses or other medical problems, the report said, deepening the mystery of why he would kill his family and himself. There was no suicide note and no apparent financial issues. He was CEO of a computer systems service company and volunteered as treasurer at Carrollwood Day School, where his children were enrolled.

The autopsy reports for Kimberly, Collin and Megan also were released. They show each died of a single gunshot wound to the head.

There was no soot in their airways, indicating they were dead before Campbell started the fire that engulfed much of the house before their bodies were found.

Hillsborough County firefighters responded to the fire at the home early on the morning of May 7. Deputies later said that Campbell had purchased the .40 caliber handgun and $600 worth of fireworks in the weeks prior to the incident. The fireworks, along with several cans of gasoline, presumably were placed in the house to impede firefighters as they tried to douse the flames.

Pearson said the blood-alcohol level was not excessive, though she couldn’t say if it played a role in affecting Campbell’s behavior that night.

“We don’t know how much he drinks on a daily basis,” she said, “so we can’t really interpret that number without knowing his tolerance to alcohol.”

The level of the other substances, including dextromethorphan, a cough suppressant, and doxylamine, an antihistamine, are within normal ranges, she said, and likely were from over-the-counter allergy and cold medications, possibly a night-time medicine that can cause drowsiness.

“There was nothing illegal, illicit or unusual in his system,” she said. The level of carboxyhemoglobin, which is a by-product of breathing in smoke, was less than 10 percent, she said.

“That’s just to rule out that he didn’t die of smoke inhalation,” Pearson said.

Sheriff’s spokesman Larry McKinnon said homicide detectives continue to investigate the murder/suicide/arson and are looking at financial records and any indications of mental illness. Detectives are expected to complete their report within a month, McKinnon said.

kmorelli@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7760

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