A British mother of two was shot dead in a murder-suicide by an American prison guard after meeting him online and moving to Texas to live with him.
Tracey Lovell, 44, from Hayle in Cornwall, was found covered in a blanket on a bed with two gunshot wounds to her head, with 60-year-old Tom Bailey’s body next to her on the floor.
Two months after the tragedy, Ms Lovell’s son killed himself back home in Penzance and her mother died of natural causes that same week.
Tracey Lovell, 44, from Hayle in Cornwall, was found covered in a blanket on a bed with two gunshot wounds to her head, with 60-year-old Tom Bailey’s body next to her on the floor at his house (pictured)
Ms Lovell met Bailey in 2018 and moved out to Texas to live with him in November before her death in January the following year, an inquest in Truro, Cornwall, heard.
The mother had difficulty controlling her weight because of a thyroid condition and she thought a cure would be available in America.
Ms Lovell maintained contact with her two sons, who last heard from her on January 4, 2019.
When the contact stopped her youngest son raised concerns with police in Texas and, on the morning of January 9, officers went to Bailey’s home in the city of Victoria, where they found him and his lover dead.
Detective Constable Shaun McDonald, of Devon and Cornwall Police, said he was liaising with detectives in Texas over Ms Lovell’s death.
He said the Briton was probably shot from behind while she had her hood up.
‘They knew each other for a few months and Tom visited Tracey in Hayle sometime in early 2018,’ he said.
‘In November 2018 Tracey moved to Victoria, Texas to be with him. It was thought the decision was based not only on emotional affection, but also a promise of a cure for her thyroid problem.
‘She seemed to believe the medical assistance she might receive in America would be better than here in the UK.
‘She arrived in the US to find that Tom Bailey’s flat was not habitable due to fire damage, and the pair stayed in a local motel until they moved just before Christmas 2018.’
Ms Lovell’s body was returned to the UK in early March 2019, two months after she died.
Det Con McDonald added: ‘This has been a particularly sad case.
‘It was clear Tracey thought moving to America to live with Tom Bailey would be the life-changing opportunity she had been waiting for, but tragically things ended in the worst possible way for Tracey and her family.’
Det Con McDonald added that detectives in Texas were unhelpful in his attempt to establish a reason or motive for Bailey’s actions.
‘The level of interaction after the first four or five days dropped off dramatically,’ he added.
‘I repeatedly emailed the detective but I didn’t even have a reply, not so much as ‘I’m sorry I can’t help’.’
In the correspondence Det Con McDonald did receive, it was disclosed that Bailey was a prison guard in the local community and the gun used to kill his lover was personally owned, without the requirement for a licence under Texas state law.
Ms Lovell’s uncle, Colin Trudgeon, expressed his frustration over a lack of cooperation from police in the United States.
He told the inquest: ‘We have a lot of unanswered questions. It doesn’t seem like a lot of effort was put in in the States to find out what led to this. There was so much more around it.’
The family was also told that Ms Lovell’s possessions, including photos of her sons when they were younger, would be returned, but they were destroyed.
Assistant coroner for Cornwall Guy Davies concluded that it was an unlawful killing.
‘It’s not been established how much Tom Bailey influenced Tracey’s decision to move to the United States,’ he said.
‘Bailey fired the shots that killed Tracey and he did so with murderous intent. He then turned the gun on himself.
‘It has not been possible to establish a reason or motive for Tracey’s murder. Why she was shot will remain unknown.’
The family declined to comment after the inquest.
For confidential support, 24 hours a day, call the Samaritans on 116 123, or visit www.samaritans.org
In the USA you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-8255 or visit https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/