TRIANGLE ó Larry Oney wanted his wife to watch while he and their 3-year-old daughter burned to death in their rural Broome County farmhouse Saturday night.
"It was part of his torture to her to tell her how he was going to kill the daughter and himself and burn the house down," Broome County Sheriff David Harder said Monday, "(so) she could watch and remember it for the rest of her life."
Authorities on Monday recounted the details of the Saturday night murder-suicide in which Oney, a 61-year-old physician's assistant, shot himself and his daughter and burned their house to the ground -- destroying his family, rather than facing a divorce.
Oney, along with his 30-year-old wife, Melissa, and their daughter Allison, 3, had returned from a family outing that was believed to have included a trip to the zoo, Harder said during a news conference.
Melissa Oney informed her husband she was requesting a divorce when they got home, setting off a horrific sequence of events.
Oney punched his wife, cut one of her Achilles tendons and tied her up with neckties before placing her in a car outside 54 Old Catskill Turnpike in the Town of Triangle, Harder said.
"He said (he was going) to kill her, then he changed his mind, and decided to kill just the daughter and himself while she would watch," Harder said.
Harder said there was no history of domestic violence between the two, and no evidence that drugs or alcohol were involved in the incident.
Eventually, Melissa Oney wiggled out of her binds and started the vehicle where she was held captive, Harder said. After a short drive toward the Village of Whitney Point on Route 206, she was able to summon help and call 911.
At 7:44 p.m. Saturday, deputies were dispatched to the scene.
The report deputies responded to was of "a male barricaded inside of a residence with a gun, threatening to burn the house down with his 3-year-old daughter inside," according to the Broome County Sheriff's Office.
Authorities arrived at the scene to the sound of gunshots coming from a century-old farmhouse that was already ablaze.
"It turns out that the gunshots were ammunition going off because of the fire," Harder said.
The fire, which was accelerated with gasoline, was extinguished in a matter of hours, Harder said.
Allison's body was discovered early Sunday with a gunshot wound to the chest and Larry's was found with a gunshot wound to the head. It isn't known in which part of the house the shootings occurred.
Although they both suffered gunshot wounds, the official cause of death is they died of smoke inhalation. Allison's death has been listed as a murder and Larry's as a suicide, Harder said.
It is believed the fire was set before Larry shot himself, Harder said, but some details are unclear.
"He could have shot his daughter first and then set the fire and then shot himself," Harder said. "It's hard to say because nobody's alive to tell us."
Larry Oney was educated at Kings College in Wilkes Barre, Pa., and was employed by United Health Services as a physician's assistant in their urology facility in Johnson City, according to information on UHS's website.
He had been licensed to work as a physician assistant since November 1980, and Melissa became a licensed physical therapist in July 2004, according to the state Office of the Professions database.
Property records show the 117-acre property at 54 Old Catskill Turnpike in the Town of Triangle was purchased by Larry Oney and Melissa Shive in February 2007.
Melissa gave birth to Allison on Nov. 5, 2008, according to Press & Sun-Bulletin archives.
Melissa Oney underwent surgery at UHS Wilson Medical Center on Saturday and continues to recover from the injuries she suffered in what Harder called a "tragic event."
"You've got a 3-year-old girl who died for really no reason," he said, "other than her father just lost it, basically, from being told the mother wanted a divorce."