WELCH —A Craig County man who was shot to death along with his wife on Sunday was disabled and used a wheelchair, their longtime pastor said, and his wife always kept the doors locked because she was afraid he would get out of the house.

William Huls, 67, was eating breakfast when he was shot, the neighbor who found the slain couple told Bobby Key, 79, a retired Church of Christ preacher. Huls was still seated, his head lying on the table.

The body of Leota Huls, 66, was found on the living room floor. Both were shot in the head, the Craig County Sheriff’s office said. They were still in their bedclothes.

Authorities found no forced entry into the house, but Leota Huls’ purse was missing and the slayings were called a robbery-homicide.

William Huls had used a wheelchair since an accident eight years ago, Key said.  During surgery that followed the accident, his temperature shot up and it affected his reasoning skills, Key said.

The family received a settlement from the hospital that enabled Leota to build a home designed for his disability. 

“She was able to care for him instead of putting him in a nursing home,” Key said.

Craig County Sheriff Jimmie Sooter said there are no suspects in custody but his office is investigating leads.

Sooter said it isn’t known how much cash was in her purse, but none of the credit cards have been used.

Key said he had a 40-year relationship with the couple. He performed marriage ceremonies for their children and preached at the funerals of their relatives. On Friday, he will speak at their funeral at Paul Thomas Funeral Home in Miami.

“I don’t know how long they were married – I know it was more than 40 years,” Key said. “They were devoted to one another.” 

This is one of the saddest things that have happened to him during his 60 years in the ministry, Key said.

“It was such a shock. Not only was I their pastor, but I was a personal friend. They wouldn’t have one enemy.”

AN ISOLATED HOUSE

Key said their house is in an isolated area of northern Craig County about four miles from the Kansas line. The closest neighbor was some distance away.

Their usual routine was to get up about 5 a.m. on Sunday, have breakfast and get ready for church, Key said.

When they didn’t show up in church, their daughter Malinda Howard telephoned a neighbor to look in on them, he said.

William Huls had been self-employed as a mechanic and Leota was a retired registered nurse.

Leota Huls spent most of her time taking care of her husband, but if anybody needed help she was always the first one to lend a hand, he said.

CHURCH

It was unusual for them not to be in church, Key said.

“They had a special place where they would sit,” he said, and Leota would hold William’s hand to comfort him if he got restless in church.

A week before the shooting, the couple and one of their granddaughters were in services.

Sooter said there were some minor similarities to a Mayes County slaying in which a Locust Grove couple in an isolated area were found shot to death on Christmas Day.  There was no robbery involved in their slayings, he said. That case has not been solved.