The fatal incident happened on Duncan’s driveway in Yellow Springs, Ohio, on the morning of Feb. 12, police said. Officers were initially called to the scene amid reports of gunfire in the upscale community, which is also home to comedian Dave Chappelle.
Cheryl Sanders, 59, and her husband Reed Sanders, 56, were found dead outside the house when police arrived. Authorities recovered three firearms at the scene and were seeking surveillance video, Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer said on Thursday.
Police are still investigating but Lindsey Duncan and his wife, Molly, have already come out publicly to describe the incident as an “ambush.”
Lindsey Duncan said he and Molly were just coming home from breakfast in their car when they stopped to get the mail outside their gate. Duncan says a large man in a camouflage mask and hoodie appeared beside Molly on the passenger’s side and pointed a gun “about 10 inches from her head.”
“All of a sudden, hell began,” Lindsey Duncan said at a brief press conference alongside Molly and their attorney on Friday. “Whatever happened after that was instinct.”
The initial investigation suggests that after the first alleged attacker was shot, the ex-wife showed up with a weapon and a second firefight broke out, Sheriff Fischer said. He added that Lindsey Duncan was armed and had a concealed carry permit.
“It wasn’t a shot or two shots,” Duncan said. “It seemed like a hundred shots.”
Molly Duncan described her husband as her “absolute hero” at the same news conference on Friday. “Thank God he knew how to respond,” she said.
“We were caught off-guard,” Molly Duncan told the Dayton Daily News. “They said nothing and they started shooting at us.”
Molly Duncan was the one who called police, according to the 911 dispatcher call obtained by Dayton 24/7 News Now.
“My husband is shooting these people ’cause they’re threatening to shoot us!” Molly says on the call, according to the outlet. “You need to get here now.”
The Duncans were not injured in the firefight.
Investigators said they found two cameras set up across from the Duncans’ home which were feeding footage to a cellphone in Cheryl Sanders’ car. They also found multiple forms of ID in the Sanders’ vehicle.
The case is currently being treated as a justifiable homicide but it remains under investigation, the newspaper reports.
Suzanne Schmidt, an assistant county prosecutor, says it will likely take a long time for investigators to make sense of what happened.
“It’s a very complicated set of facts,” she told local station WDTN on Thursday. She says investigators will eventually present the matter to a grand jury to see if any charges are warranted.
The sheriff says Duncan had told police about his ex-wife in the past.
“About five years ago, the resident … notified us that he had received information that the ex-wife was trying to hire somebody to murder him,” Fischer said, according to WDTN.
Lindsey Duncan is a former Dr. Oz guest and self-styled celebrity nutritionist. He was previously accused of peddling a dubious weight-loss solution involving coffee beans in 2014. He agreed to pay $9 million to the Federal Trade Commission in 2015 to settle a lawsuit over deceptive claims that he was a doctor, The Washington Post reports.
His ex-wife, Cheryl Wheeler Sanders, was a longtime Hollywood stunt actor who doubled for many leading women, including Nicole Kidman, Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Garner and Sharon Stone, according to Women in Stunts, a site dedicated to the profession. Sanders also performed in the iconic hoverboard chase scene in Back to the Future Part II, she told the Denver Post in a 2010 interview. Sanders said that particular stunt went awry and she suffered a concussion and other injuries as a result.
Cheryl and Lindsey were married in 1999 and divorced in 2009, the Dayton Daily News reports. Court documents obtained by the paper show that Lindsey Duncan sued his ex-wife for defamation, slander and libel in 2016. The case remains pending.
Adrian King, a self-described confidant of Reed Sanders in North Carolina, told the Dayton Daily News that the Sanders had travelled to Ohio to settle an ongoing dispute. King claimed the dispute was over funding for Lindsey and Cheryl’s daughters’ schooling.
Molly Duncan has said there were no discussions before the shooting started.
The entire case is still under investigation and no footage has been released.
—With files from The Associated Press