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Elderly Missouri couple die after being attacked at home; suspect accused in 3 other deaths

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KANSAS CITY, Missouri — An elderly couple severely beaten in their Kansas City home, allegedly by a man also accused of fatally shooting three of their neighbors, died Tuesday after being taken off life support, relatives and hospital officials said.

Ann Taylor, 86, and her husband, George Taylor, 80, were attacked in their basement on Sept. 2. Prosecutors allege that Brandon Howell beat the couple, then fatally shot three other people outside nearby homes before fleeing in the Taylors' SUV. Howell, a convicted felon, was arrested hours later when police found him walking with a loaded shotgun in his pants.

Ann Taylor was taken off life support Monday night but lived until Tuesday, while her husband was removed from life support Tuesday morning and died soon after, according to HCA Midwest Health in Kansas City.

"George and Ann died peacefully and we are blessed that they left this Earth together," family members said in a statement. "They were married more than 40 years, and loved each other dearly."

Howell, 34, faces a dozen felony charges including three counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of the Taylors' neighbors: Alice Hurst, 88; her son, Darrel Hurst, 63; and Susan Choucroun, 69.

It wasn't immediately clear when or if new charges would be filed related to the Taylors' deaths, but "be assured that at the appropriate time, today's sad news of the Taylors' passing will be reflected in the state's case against the defendant," said Mike Mansur, spokesman for the Jackson County prosecutor's office.

Kansas City police responded to a 911 call from Ann Taylor the afternoon of Sept. 2. Officers found Choucroun's body in the driveway of the home next door to the Taylors' house. A few houses away, the Hursts' bodies were found in the front yard of their home, in a tidy cul-de-sac lined with duplexes.

Witnesses told police that they heard several shots and saw a beige Toyota Highlander stop in front of Choucroun's home and a man get out carrying a long gun. Prosecutors said the man shot the woman, got back into the Toyota and drove away.

Two hours later, police received a report that three people had been assaulted at a Motel 6 about 30 miles north of the shooting scene. While canvassing the commercial area, officers found the stolen SUV in a restaurant parking lot near the motel.

Acting on a tip, police found Howell walking along Interstate 29 later that night with a loaded shotgun stuffed down his pants and spent shells in his pocket.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker has declined to discuss a motive for the attacks, but he noted that charges accuse Howell of burglary and stealing a motor vehicle.

Kansas court records show that Howell pleaded guilty in 2000 to a 1999 home invasion in Johnson County, Kansas, in which one victim was cut on the hand and a cat was decapitated. He was sentenced to 12 years but paroled in 2011.

Howell also was acquitted in 2009 in the killings of two Kansas teenagers who were last seen in 1998. One victim's body was later found buried outside a Kansas City home being renovated by Howell's father; the other body has never been found.

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