February 21, 2002
Boca man kills sister, then self
Murder takes place in lawyer's office during
mediation session
Retired Boca firefighter fatally
shoots sister before killing self
Siblings were disputing parents' estate

By Stephanie Slater

As she looked out her window across the street at yellow crime-scene tape, Rachel
DiBenedetto said she wasn't completely surprised to learn of Wednesday's murder-suicide
in Boca Raton.

"I knew something was going to happen," said DiBenedetto of 365 N.E., Third St. in
Boca Raton. "It usually does when one wants to sell the house and one doesn't."

The 79-year-old was referring to the estate-dispute between Charles Thomas Ott, 55, and
his sister, Margret Ott Jones, 53.

Police say Ott, a retired Boca Raton firefighter, shot his sister to death in a law office
during a dispute over the sale of their deceased parents'  Boca Raton home at about 10:26
a.m. Wednesday, then drove to the home on Northeast Third Street and fatally shot
himself. Jones, of 2342 S.E. Avalon Road in Port St. Lucie, died at the scene. Ott, of 641
N.E. Harbor Drive in Boca Raton, was pronounced dead at Delray Medical Center at
12:30 p.m., police said.

The brother and sister, both graduates of Boca Raton High School, were meeting in the
law office of Hodgeson Russ, 1801 N. Military Trail in the three-story Mellon United
National Bank building near Town Center Mall. Ott shot Jones during an argument in a
mediation session attended by an attorney and a mediator, police said.

The building was partially evacuated after witnesses told police they were unsure whether
Ott was still inside. Members of the Boca Raton Police Department's SWAT team
searched it room-by-room and floor-by-floor, but were unable to locate Ott.

"Officers spotted Ott driving a silver-and-teal GMC pickup on Northeast Fifth Avenue at
about noon, and followed him to his parents' home at 366 N.E. Third St.," said Officer
Jeff Kelly, police spokesman.

Officers briefly spoke with Ott in the driveway of the home before he shot himself in the
chest, Kelly said.

The house is reportedly worth between $300,000 and $350,000.

Ott, married and father of one son, was employed by Boca Raton Fire Rescue Services
from March 18, 1968 until his disability retirement on June 7, 1988.

His wife, Carol Ott, was aware of the estate dispute, said her attorney, Kenneth Lipman.

"Carol is obviously greatly shocked," Lipman said. "It is the family's hope that people will
respect her privacy, so that she and her family can begin to overcome this great tragedy."

Jones, known to her friends as Peggy, was a divorced mother and grandmother who
cared for the elderly and lived alone in her Port St. Lucie home for more than a dozen

"Peggy was a lovely girl," said Eleanor Cahill, who used to live down the street from
Jones' parents. "He [Ott] had to be off his rocker."

Last year, killers in Florida used their murder weapons to take their own lives about once
every six days, said Donna Cohen, a psychologist and professor at the University of
South Florida's Department of Aging and Mental Health. The murder-suicides were most
frequent in South Florida. In 2001, 25 of Florida's 66 cases occurred in Broward, Palm
Beach or Miami-Dade counties, Cohen said.

"Tom was a fine man," said Ott's next-door neighbor on Harbor Drive - an affluent
neighborhood just west of the Intracoastal Waterway. "He was a loving father and
Stephanie Slater/STAFF PHOTO

Boca Raton police and SWAT team
members prepare to search the Mellon
United National Bank building, 1801 N.
Military Trail, Wednesday morning after
hearing reports of shots fired. Investigators
said Charles Thomas Ott, 55, shot his sister
Margret Ott Jones, 53, multiple times after
a dispute over the sale of their parents'
home. Ott later turned the gun on himself.
Officers investigate the scene on Northeast
Third Street in Boca Raton at the home
where Charles Thomas Ott, 55, killed
himself Wednesday. Ott had fatally shot his
sister, Margret Ott Jones, prior to killing