EATONTON, Ga. - The wife of an Eatonton police officer who was arrested last week on domestic violence charges against his wife was found dead of a gunshot wound at the couple’s home near Lake Oconee in Putnam County on Monday afternoon.
And now deputies and detectives with the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office along with assistance from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Region 6 Office in Milledgeville are attempting to uncover exactly what happened.
Putnam County Sheriff Howard R. Sills identified the victim as 44-year-old Amanda Pardue Perrault, of 133 Long Island Drive, Eatonton.
“I’ve either got a suicide or a murder,” Sills said. “That’s what I have. I mean it’s just that simple. It could be either way.”
The victim was shot once in the head with a .380-caliber handgun, according to Sills.
The shooting, which happened in the couple’s bedroom, stemmed from a domestic argument between Amanda Perrault and her husband, Michael Perrault, an officer with the Eatonton Police Department, Sills told reporters at his office Tuesday morning.
“The bottom line is that he (Michael Perrault) says they were arguing and then she suddenly produced a gun and shot herself,” Sills said.
The sheriff said based on statements given to him by the police officer that the officer’s wife retrieved the handgun from a nightstand and shot herself while in the bed.
Sills said Michael Perrault told him that he witnessed his wife shoot herself.
Following the shooting, Michael Perrault, telephoned Eatonton Police Chief Kent Lawrence to report what had happened.
The police chief then called Sills to inform him.
Shortly after 1:30 p.m. deputies and Detective Lt. Harry Luke and Detective Chris Harper along with Sills arrived on the scene and discovered the victim in the bedroom.
Sills said he later made a telephone call to the GBI office in Milledgeville to request assistance of their crime scene unit.
“I did that for a couple of reasons,” Sills said. “One, this is a city police officer and I didn’t want anyone to think that was any inference that there was any kind of special treatment being done because he was a police officer. And very candidly, yes, it is being handled much differently because he is a police officer. It’s being scrutinized far more in that regard. And of course we have the incident of last week where he was arrested and charged with simple battery of his wife. And secondly, the scene needed an extraordinary amount of time to process it properly, and as y’all know, I am understaffed.”
Amanda Perrault was later pronounced dead at the scene.
Sills described the officer as being “very distraught” when he and others law enforcement officers, including Eatonton Police Investigator Howell Cardwell arrived at the residence.
The sheriff said Michael Perrault voluntarily accompanied deputies and detectives to the sheriff’s office.
“He was told he was not in custody and not under arrest,” Sills said. “I wanted to talk with him and we talked for a good while and then he eventually left with his daughter.”
Officer Perrault answered questions from authorities for approximately two hours.
Sills said he didn’t want to discuss what was said during that interview.
“Apparently there was a lack of tranquility (between the couple) since the officer’s arrest last week,” Sills said.
The police officer has an 8-year-old daughter, who was at school at the time of the shooting.
A friend of the police officer from the police department actually went to the school and got the girl out early, the sheriff said.
Sills said the officer and his daughter have not yet returned home because detectives were still executing the search warrant on Tuesday.
“We’ve not yet released the scene, and it has been under my continuance possession since we got the call,” Sills said, confirming that Michael Perrault first called Lawrence and then the police chief called him.
Just last week, Officer Perrault, 43, was arrested at his home on misdemeanor charges of simple assault under the Georgia Family Violence Act and cruelty to children in the third degree.
A short time after being taken to the jail, Eatonton Police Chief Kent Lawrence said he went there and placed Perrault on administrative leave without pay, pending the completion of an internal investigation.
Lawrence said he also had reported the incident to the Georgia Peace Officers and Standards Training Council (P.O.S.T.), the state agency that certifies all law enforcement officers.
After being arrested Perrault was taken to the Putnam County Jail and released the following day after he posted $1,500 bail. The bond was set during a hearing before Putnam County Chief Magistrate Dororthy Adams. During the hearing, Perrault, who has worked for the Eatonton Police Department since the latter part of 2018, was advised of the charges against him and advised of his Constitutional rights.
The case remained under investigation Tuesday afternoon.