The deaths of a Cleveland news reporter and her uncle are being investigated as a murder-suicide, the Perrysburg Township Police Department said in a statement Wednesday.
The bodies of cleveland.com culture reporter Nikki Delamotte-Ullman, 30, and her uncle, Robert Delamotte, 67, were found Monday in her uncle’s trailer in Perrysburg Township, about 100 miles west of Cleveland and 10 miles southeast from Toledo.
Delamotte-Ullman had been shot three times, once in the chest, her right side and head, police said, and Delamotte was found with one gunshot wound to his head, which appeared to be self-inflicted.
The motive is still unclear, police said, but officers were able to view video from a surveillance system at Delamotte’s trailer that they say showed no one entered or exited the property after Delamotte-Ullman arrived at 4:16 p.m. Police said they arrived at the scene at 9:27 p.m. and found both of their bodies in the living room.
“At this time, it is unclear as to what the motive is but we will be continuing to investigate in hopes of determining why this happened,” Perrysburg Township police said in a statement.
The slain reporter had traveled to Wood County to reconnect with her father’s brother, whom she’d had little contact with since her parents’ divorce, the site she worked for, cleveland.com reported. She decided to reach out after her maternal grandmother died after succumbing to a lengthy illness, the site reported.
It’s with heavy hearts we report the tragic death of Nikki Delamotte, a popular culture reporter with @clevelanddotcom. Nikki was found shot dead in a suspected homicide Monday in Wood County. She was 30. Photo courtesy of Jacqueline Bon. pic.twitter.com/VOAEqXSLRJ
— clevelanddotcom (@clevelanddotcom) November 12, 2018
The pair had plans to try and score tickets to a Bob Seger concert in Toledo, her coworkers told the website. When Delamotte did not return to Cleveland Sunday night, cleveland.com reported that someone who knew of her plans reached out to her mother, JoAnne Ullman, early Monday to tell her she hadn’t heard from her.
Ullman then noticed her daughter hadn’t answered a text sent at 10:30 p.m. Sunday and called the police to report her missing, she told the site.
Delamotte-Ullman’ss cellphone and wallet were still inside her car, parked outside the trailer, Ullman told cleveland.com. Neighbors told investigators they did not hear a commotion coming from the trailer and that the man who lived there mostly kept to himself, the site reported.
Police said they found a Ruger .380 semi-automatic handgun and a Taurus .38 Special revolver on the scene, but only the revolver had been fired.
Delamotte-Ullman filed her final story — a piece on FreshWater Cleveland’s project in the city’s Old Brooklyn neighborhood — over the weekend before heading to Wood county to see her uncle, according to website. She had been writing for cleveland.com for two years and also authored the book “100 Things to Do in Cleveland Before You Die.”
This is culture reporter Nikki Delamotte’s final story for https://t.co/a4YA4W2Cro.
She filed it over the weekend before heading to the Toledo area to visit family. She was found shot to death in a suspected homicide Monday in Wood County. https://t.co/e5oWLZdRuR
— clevelanddotcom (@clevelanddotcom) November 13, 2018
Delamotte-Ullman’s death has been “devastating” and “unimaginable” for the cleveland.com newsroom, editor Chris Quinn told ABC News in a statement.
“Nikki represented the highest ideals of what we do, the very best of who we are,” the statement read. “She worked tirelessly to provide Greater Cleveland with insights on the best places to eat and drink and enjoy precious leisure hours. She told the stories of people our audience would not otherwise meet. More than anything, she was kind, in an age when we need kindness. She never failed to leave an impression. Our hearts ache tonight at the loss of our dear friend and colleague.”
In an email, Quinn wrote that Delamotte-Ullman “had a unique ability to ask people challenging questions without being confrontational.”
“She was the only reporter I knew who could be both gentle and fierce at the same instant,” he said.
Pinned to the top of the reporter’s Twitter page was a testament to how much she loved her job and the city of Cleveland.
This year, I had the chance to tell stories about so many Clevelanders that make me really proud to live here. A few of my favorites in this thread.
— nikki delamotte (@nikkidelamotte) December 31, 2017
Tributes to the young reporter began to pour onto Twitter on Monday after news of her death broke.
“The reason that hundreds in Greater Cleveland have taken to social media to lament her death is they had been touched by that kindness in Nikki,” Quinn said.
Last night or early this morning someone murdered one of my best friends in the entire world. I don’t know what I’m going to do without you @nikkidelamotte, or how I am going to tell Bebe about Aunt Nikki. This doesn’t feel real.
— ???????????? (@in_shambles) November 12, 2018
Just hearing about @nikkidelamotte. ?? So heartbroken. She was such a beautiful soul, a kind spirit, and amazing person. Just going to log off. Take some time to remember what a light she was to this community and so many of us in it. pic.twitter.com/6xrzpX1eKP
— Lauren R. Welch (@Lrochellew) November 12, 2018
The news about @nikkidelamotte is heartbreaking. I knew her only through Twitter and her bylines, but knew she was a great person and I loved her exploration of the people & places in our community. My condolences to her colleagues, friends, & family. Cleveland lost a good one.
— Tom Horsman (@TomHorsman) November 12, 2018
The sound of grieving voices grows louder and louder here in Cleveland. There was no one like @nikkidelamotte — as a journalist who loved the people of this city, and as a spirit who walked among us. https://t.co/NuyGXHL4B4
— Connie Schultz (@ConnieSchultz) November 12, 2018
While non-Clevelanders are mourning someone else, it’s a testament to @nikkidelamotte‘s impact on the city to see the CLE community collectively grieving her death. I only knew her online but I loved reading her pieces and interacting with her. She will be greatly missed.
— Jill Grunenwald (@Jill_Grun) November 12, 2018
Death of Nikki Delamotte is beyond shocking & sad. Sweet soul, talented journalist, big heart. Condolences to family & friends. RIP, Nikki.
— John Petkovic (@johnpetkovic) November 12, 2018
We’re learning the devastating news that @nikkidelamotte has passed… The entire Beachland family is in mourning of one of Northeast Ohio’s brightest shining stars. Nikki was a tremendous asset to the NEO community & a valued friend. Spread ??to all you know today. RIP Nikki.
— Beachland Ballroom (@BeachlandCLE) November 12, 2018
Our entire Bazaar family is saddened at the loss of @nikkidelamotte. She was a curious, driven and inspiring reporter whose coverage was warm, witty and engaging. She loved animals, deliciousness and her friends in particular, and we will miss both her and her writing terribly.
— Cleveland Bazaar (@clevelandbazaar) November 12, 2018