Mattoon Police Say Man Killed Himself After Assaulting Estranged Wife

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Published on January 4 2013 9:42 pm
Last Updated on July 14 2013 4:07 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

A Mattoon man is dead from a single gunshot wound to the head after police say he physically assaulted his estranged wife.

Dead is Gerald Banta.  Police say Banta shot himself about 9am Friday.

Mattoon Deputy Police Chief Jason Taylor said Banta was reportedly upset with his estranged wife, suspecting that she had a relationship with another individual.  Taylor said Banta was waiting at the woman's home when she arrived from work about 6am Friday and that Banta then assaulted her over a three-hour period.

Taylor said another woman came to the home and that's when Banta shot himself.  He said police believe Banta was contemplating a murder-suicide before the visitor arrived and changed his plans.  Taylor said the visitor was aware of the problems between Banta and the victim.

Mattoon police were dispatched to the home in the 900 block of 12th Street in Mattoon at 9:21am.  They found Banta alive, but Taylor said Banta died en route to Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center.

The Coles County Coroner's Office is working with Mattoon Police on the investigation.  An autopsy is scheduled for Saturday to officially determine the cause of death.