5 dead in Zakynthos killing spree

A worker at a refreshment stand on a popular Zakynthos beach resort went on a shooting rampage early yesterday, killing his wife, son and parents-in-law before taking his own life with the same weapon, police said. Giorgos Vardousis, 34, who according to initial reports had a history of drugs-related charges, is believed to have committed the four murders around 4 a.m. as his victims slept in their homes in the seaside village of Alikanas, some 15 kilometers northwest of the island capital of Zakynthos. Police said Vardousis first fatally shot his 34-year-old wife, Martha – who was under psychiatric supervision – with a shotgun, before killing the couple’s 9-year-old son, Ioannis. He then moved on to the adjacent house where his parents-in-law, Ioannis Potamitis, 63, and Angeliki Potamiti, 58, lived. Having killed the couple, he returned to his home and turned the shotgun on himself. The motives for the multiple killing were unclear yesterday, although the state of his wife’s health is thought to have driven Vardousis to despair. The woman had been taking medication for mental disease, and her parents had moved to a house next to their daughter’s to be able to take care of the 9-year-old boy. Initial reports said Vardousis, who worked in a refreshment stand owned by his father-in-law, left a suicide note explaining that he felt constrained to kill his son, to prevent the boy from growing up «in this society.» Sources close to the investigation were quoted on TV as saying that Vardousis had placed icons on his victims’ breasts, and lay down on the floor beside his wife and son before pulling the trigger to take his own life. Neighbors who were interviewed by television channels said that they knew the woman had psychiatric problems but that they had not seen the couple fight or act in any way that would have made them suspect anything like yesterday’s murders and suicide.