‘We’re all just devastated’
DRYDEN TWP. — The investigation into the shooting death of two Dryden Township brothers Saturday afternoon by the Dryden Township Police Dept. is nearly complete and officially being ruled a murder-suicide.
According to police reports, Joseph Robert “Bob” Tebben, 63, shot and killed his brother, James Drum Tebben, 64. Their bodies were discovered by a third brother, Henry Tebben, at the Stone House on Hodges Road (between Sutton and Hollow Corners roads). The house and property is part of The Huntsman Hunt Club, a 900-acre private shooting preserve southwest of the Village of Dryden.
Dryden Township Police Dept. Chief Larry Pack said James was found around 3:15 p.m. in the yard and Bob was found near the home’s front porch. Pack said it appears Bob shot his older brother with a shotgun and then turned the weapon on himself.
Investigators, said Pack, found “leading up to this incident there had been an ongoing disagreement over business and finances.” He said it appears, “things had been brewing for a long time. According to family members things had heated up in the last couple of weeks.”
While James and his mother, Nora, were listed as officers of Tebben Farms Ltd. and The Huntsman Hunt Club, Bob was not.
Founded in 1979 on the Tebben family farm, local businessman Phil Andreae said the club was “hugely successful.”
On Sunday, a message on the Huntsman Hunt Club website read, “The sudden and unexpected death of James D. Tebben has devastated all of us at The Huntsman. It is now that all of us here who loved and respected Jim want to pull together for Mary Beth (Jim’s wife). We would ask for your understanding as we close the club for a couple of weeks while we regroup and take time to grieve for someone who touched all of us here with his kindness and generosity.”
The statement continued, “We know that many of our members felt about Jim the same way we did. If you so desire, there will be a book at the club you can sign and/or leave a message in for Mary Beth. You may also drop off cards, etc., at the clubhouse between the hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, August 13 and August 14. Thank you for your kindness and understanding at this time.”
“We’re all just devastated,” said Andreae’s wife, Donna.
“They were delightful people,” observed Andreae. “Calm, easy going. Very pleasant.”
Bob’s daughter wrote in the Muir Brothers Funeral Home Guestbook, “To those of you who knew my father: He was a gentle soul and a kind man. We grieve for him and our uncle. The entire thing is a sad, sad tragedy. There will be a small memorial service for my dad “Bobby” on Thursday afternoon in Metamora.”
Following the shooting the Lapeer County Medical Examiners Office took custody of the bodies, but Pack said no autopsy was scheduled.
Pack said his department was assisted by the Michigan State Police Crime Lab, the Lapeer County Sheriff’s Dept. and police from Metamora, Imlay City and Almont.
Both Tebben brothers were Dryden High School graduates. Bob earned a bachelor’s degree from Oakland University and James had a law degree.
Bob is survived by his children: Heather (Matt) Newhouse of Ketchum, Idaho and Paul Tebben of Metamora; mother, Nora Tebben of Dryden; three grandchildren: Levi, Sawyer and Justin; siblings: Joanne (Daniel) Cote of East Jordan, Donald (Luda) Tebben of Rochester and Henry (Cherise) Tebben of Colorado.
James’ family has planned a memorial service for 11 a.m. today (Wednesday) at the Modetz Funeral Home,100 E. Silverbell Rd., Orion. The family held a visitation Tuesday night at the funeral home.
He is survived by his wife, Mary Beth, children, Jonah (Kathy) Tebben, Stephen and David Barton; mother, Nora; grand daughter; Catherine; sister, Joanne (Dan) Cote; brothers, Don (Luda) and Henry (Cherisse) Tebben, and father-inlaw, Paul Butcher.
The family has suggested that memorial donations can be made in James’ name to Ducks Unlimited, Inc. MI120 or the American Cancer Society.
Pack said it was the third homicide in Dryden Township in about a decade, adding there was another murder-suicide in the community in 2000.
In Nov. 1986 James’ business partner, Arthur Kirby, 61, was gunned down in the horse barn of his Harbor Road home in Metamora Township. Police at the time said Kirby was shot at least 12 times by two different guns and his body was left in his yard under some horse blankets. No charges were ever filed in the killing.
Kirby’s death, which Pack said is unrelated to the Hodges Road incident, is one of six unsolved homicides dating back to 1970 in