According to Elmore County, Alabama Sheriff Bill Franklin, at around 5 p.m. Saturday, Robert Orsi shot and killed his estranged wife, Charlene and one of their four daughters (12 year old triplets and a 13 year old daughter) who was one of the triplets. He shot and wounded the other two triplets before they could escape the house. He then set the house on fire and committed suicide with what is believed to be a large caliber handgun.
This tragedy occurred nine days following Charlene’s petition for divorce. Franklin says he believes the horrific events were fueled by the impending divorce and the possibility of a cust
ody battle for the children. Franklin also indicated Robert had a “sideline recreational problem with illegal narcotics.”
Charlene Orsi, a Holley-Navarre Intermediate teacher from Sept. 2014 – Oct. 2015, was according to her former principal Liz West, a genuine ray of sunshine.
“She was a remarkable person. She was always concerned about the children in her class. She was just as passionate about her own children,” West said.
West said everyone remembers when she came to do her paperwork, it was her first year of teaching. Orsi was switching careers later in life and she was excited to begin her new career.
“We are all heartbroken and incredibly sad – just sad,” West said.
In an interview with Navarre Press, Sheriff Franklin said, “the community here is not familiar with such a bizarre event. This neighborhood is very upscale and newer with homes ranging from $200 – $300,000. The community in Redland is shocked by this.”
Franklin also said they had never received any kind of call to this address and it wasn’t until Saturday that certain things came to light.
The two daughters who were injured suffered multiple gun shot wounds. They came through their surgeries and are doing well. “Those girls are strong,” Franklin said. “They have articulated in detail to our investigators what happened. They have been very forthcoming.”
In a live interview with the Montgomery Advertiser, the sheriff relayed those accounts. One of the sisters told investigators their father had lined them up on the floor and began shooting multiple rounds. The girl said one of her sister’s wouldn’t be quiet. They got up to run but the sister wasn’t able to follow them. They heard a final shot and couldn’t hear her after that.
As the two wounded sisters were running out of the house, the first responding deputy was running up to the house. He was able to get them to safety. Franklin told Navarre Press the deputy tried to enter the house but the heat and smoke were too much for him. The deputy reported hearing a howling cry before Orsi took his own life.
The couple’s 13 year old daughter managed to escape the house without injury and run to a neighbor’s house.
In a twist, Charlene’s parents were moving from their home in New York to be close to their daughter and granddaughters. They had just arrived with their rental truck full of their belongings when they received the call from the sheriff.
“These people are good – they are great. They have been at the hospital with the girls,” Franklin said.
Robert was an Air Force retired Chief Master Sergeant and had served previously at Hurlburt Field. According to Air Force Special Operations Command public affairs Chief of Operations, Capt. Amanda Farr, Orsi entered the Air Force Dec. 11, 1986. At Hurlburt he served as the Chief of Medical Enlisted Forces for the AFSOC Surgeon General and then the Superintendent, Special Operations Medical Group prior to retiring in November 2015.
West called the tragedy “senseless”
A vigil for Charlene will be held at Navarre Park, Wednesday, July 11, at 7 p.m.