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Police continue investigation

As police continue investigating the crime scene, friends, neighbors and associates of Debra Dickens and Elizabeth Keating ponder what might have led to Tuesday’s alleged shooting that involved the longtime friends and business partners.

Friday, January 05, 2001

As police continue investigating the crime scene, friends, neighbors and associates of Debra Dickens and Elizabeth Keating ponder what might have led to Tuesday’s alleged shooting that involved the longtime friends and business partners.

Rumors abound and police officials say they are closely examining several possible motives.

"Financial problems seems to be the motive," Ironton police detective Capt. Chris Bowman said. "But, we’re certainly not ruling out other possible motives."

Mrs. Keating, an employee of M&M Realty-Appraisals and partner in the American Dream Cruises travel agency, is accused of attempted aggravated murder after allegedly discharging a .38-caliber revolver at Mrs. Dickens.

Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital officials said Mrs. Dickens was released from the hospital Wednesday afternoon. She was being treated for a gunshot wound to the head, which officials discovered was a graze on the forehead.

Charlie Walters, a neighbor who lives two doors from Mrs. Keating’s Ora Richey Road home, said he knows the two women and has the deepest sympathy for both families.

"The neighborhood is in deep sorrow for Elizabeth and her family and we are thankful Debbie wasn’t more seriously hurt," Walters said. "I feel as bad for Elizabeth’s family as I do good for Debbie’s family. I know Elizabeth and her husband they are good neighbors and good friends."

He described Mrs. Keating as a "family-oriented" individual.

"She’s very positive with her kids," he said. "She’s never raised her voice. She’s a very quiet-spoken person Their life is their kids."

And he said he is "extremely thankful" Mrs. Dickens wasn’t seriously injured during the incident.

"Hopefully, something good will come from all this," Walters said. "I hope positive steps are taken to help both sides."

Investigators are still searching for clues as to why Mrs. Keating dressed in her husband’s clothes and hid in the office awaiting Mrs. Dickens’ arrival, detective Bowman said.

"There is evidence in each and every room," he said. "Basically, the crime scene is the entire inside of the office building."

Visibly shaking, Mrs. Keating appeared in the Ironton Municipal Court Wednesday, sobbing after her hearing when the court set a $250,000 cash or property bond.

Authorities allowed family members to approach Mrs. Keating after the hearing to comfort her.

In a tearful voice, she told family members "I don’t want to be a burden I’m so tired. I’m so tired," and continued to sob.

Sheriff Tim Sexton said Mrs. Keating was transported to River Valley Health System’s Ironton facility when she left the court for unknown medical reasons.

"She was later transported to their establishment in Portsmouth," he said. "What their medical reason was for the transport is unclear, but we acted on their request."

A preliminary hearing for Mrs. Keating is scheduled for Jan. 11 at 9 a.m.

The charge Mrs. Keating faces carries a sentence of three to 10 years in prison, prosecuting attorney officials said.