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Suspect in Mich. sisters' slayings found dead in West Virginia cabin


Thomas J. Fritz, 38, served a one-year sentence in Ohio on a 2007 third-degree criminal sexual conduct conviction, authorities say.

Updated at 6:40 a.m ET: SISTERSVILLE, W.Va. -- An ex-convict and Iraq war veteran being sought nationwide in the shooting deaths of his ex-girlfriend and her pregnant sister in Michigan has been found dead in West Virginia, police said Wednesday.

The U.S. Marshals Service, following up on a lead, discovered the body of Thomas Fritz in a remote cabin in Tyler County, W.Va., on Tuesday night, Michigan State Police Lt. Sean Furlong told The Associated Press. 

Fritz served nearly a year in Iraq and later was jailed in Ohio for sexual battery.

The U.S. Marshals hunting the former military police specialist had earlier surrounded the cabin. Authorities later said a man in the cabin died of self-inflicted gunshot wound.

NBC News station WTOV reported that marshals and officers from several other agencies had been combing the area when they came across the cabin and spotted a man with a gun.

They said the man started yelling and went in the house, which is when marshals said they heard one shot come from inside.

When marshals got inside, they found the man was dead, they added.

Authorities had previously said that Fritz was believed to be armed and dangerous.

More stories from WTOV9.com

Fritz, 38, was charged with killing his 33-year-old ex-girlfriend Amy Merrill in a house they shared in Blissfield, a village on the edge of southern Michigan's scenic Irish Hills region. He is also accused of killing the woman's 24-year-old sister Lisa Gritzmaker, who was eight months pregnant, and shooting and wounding their 52-year-old mother Robin Lynn McCowan.

Fritz moved in with Merrill last winter along with her two sons from another relationship and a toddler they had together. She broke up with him about three weeks ago, investigators said.

Fritz served in the Ohio National Guard beginning in 1997 and later the Army Reserve. He then spent nearly a year in Iraq with the guard's military police unit from the spring of 2003 through early 2004.

That same year he received an associate of applied science degree in criminal justice from Owens Community College in suburban Toledo.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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