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Authorities today tried to determine whether chronic depression caused a Fredonia State College music professor to strangle his 87-year-old mother, take her body to his home and then hang himself in his garage Tuesday.

The victims were identified as John A. Maier, 54, of Shorewood Drive, Dunkirk, and his mother, Louisa, a resident of the WCA Home, a retirement home for women in Fredonia.

"It appears to be a murder-suicide," Chautauqua County Coroner Dan Newman said today.

Undersheriff Jerome Ernewein said that Maier apparently had been depressed for more than a year and had been under treatment for depression.

A relative found Maier's body in the garage shortly before 4 p.m. Tuesday. Mrs. Maier's body was found later in the front seat of her son's car, covered with a blanket and with a rope around her neck.

Investigators searching for the motive in the murder-suicide also planned to check the mother's medical records. But, Newman said, "We have no evidence that she was in ill health."

Maier had been associate chairman of the Fredonia State music department for 13 years. A 28-year veteran of the Fredonia State faculty, he played and taught the oboe, college officials said today.

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