Two sudden deaths shock a city
A weight of personal and business pressure appears to have been the catalyst for grain farmer Rodney Vlahov to shoot dead his long-time accountant Philip Chamberlain before taking his own life.
Police found Mr Vlahov’s body on a ridge overlooking his Yuna farm morning after a 20-hour search for the 48-year-old. Mr Chamberlain, 49, was shot in the head in his Flores Road office in Geraldton just after midday on Thursday.
The shooting happened in front of Mr Vlahov’s brothers who were there to discuss issues surrounding a succession plan for the family farm.
The farm was established in the 1930s, but the business had struggled since the death of patriarch Tom Vlahov last year.
The Weekend West was told yesterday that conflict over the handling of Tom Vlahov’s will had strained family ties.
The breakdown of Rodney Vlahov’s marriage had added to the pain.
Police were last night piecing together the moments before and after the shooting, with the investigation focusing on what happened in the offices of Douglas, Cross & Chamberlain. WA Police Assistant Commissioner Murray Smalpage could not confirm whether Mr Vlahov had intended to kill Mr Chamberlain, or had been aiming at one of his siblings.
A coronial inquiry will investigate whether Mr Vlahov’s weapon jammed, or whether it was wrestled off him by others in the room.
Mr Chamberlain was married to a local GP and had two young children.
In a statement, the family said: “Philip was a much-loved husband and father, and was well known in the Geraldton community. We wish to thank the community for its support at this extremely difficult time.”
Mr Smalpage said major crime squad detectives, the homicide squad and other specialists would investigate. He urged anyone struggling in their personal or professional life to seek help.
The Geraldton community also conveyed their shock, with friends, colleagues and community leaders expressing grief.
“The community is quite numb at the moment,” Chapman Valley Shire president Anthony Farrell said.
If you or someone you know needs support, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.