Murder-suicide of principal, son “leaves a big hole in everyone’s heart”

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WESTPHALIA, Mich. -- A local principal and his son with disabilities were found dead in their van in Montcalm County earlier this week in a suspected murder-suicide.  Thursday night, police are still investigating and picking apart why this happened while family, friends, students, and community members attended a visitation for Pewamo Elementary Principal George Heckman and his son, Grant.

Many people at Thursday's visitation said they could barely believe it.  George Heckman was a man who people say loved kids, dedicated his life to teaching and working with kids for the last 20 years, and spent countless hours taking care of his son with cerebral palsy.

"George Heckman was a pillar of this community," said Pewamo-Westphalia Schools Superintendent Dr. Garth Cooper. "He and Grant were well known by all."

Those well-known images and perceptions of George are why some still can't believe, and find it hard to understand, why he allegedly killed his 28-year-old son and then himself.

"It's challenging for sure," Dr. Cooper said. "I mean, again, it leaves a big hole in everyone's heart."

Heckman's son told FOX 17 they are still trying to put the pieces to the puzzle together, with a lot of questions still to be answered.

"I would never say what I think George did is right, but anyone who knows George knows that he loved and cared for Grant," Dr. Cooper said. "He spent 28 years taking care of Grant and meeting all of his needs, so this wasn't about George's concern for Grant's quality of life or anything like that."

A love so strong for his son, that some people say that same love could have driven George to do what he did.

"For George to do this, it just must have been to the point where he couldn't stand to see his son suffer any longer," Dr. Cooper said. "We are all going to miss George and Grant."

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