This is the "devoted" couple at the centre of a murder suicide investigation in the US. Carl and Kathy Ashcroft were found with gunshot wounds at an address in California. Mr Ashcroft, the owner of a Wigan taxi company was pronounced dead at the scene and his American wife was taken to hospital but later died from her injuries.

The incident happened in Rancho Mirage, a city in Riverside County, south east of Palm Springs. Local police have named Mr Ashcroft as the 'suspect' in the case. He was the owner of PemTaxis in Wigan and it is understood he and his wife had previously lived in the Shevington area.

Dave Brown, dealer principal at Orrell Motorcycle Centre, had known the couple for years. He said: "I knew them professionally. I run a motorcycle business and Carl had a soft spot for his bikes. For over 25 years I have been selling Carl motorcycles, so we obvioulsy built up a friendship as well, but not away from work.

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"I would drop bikes of their house and have a brew while handing them over. Kathy didn't ride, but she would occassionally go pillion. They lived in Shevington and Orell and Pemberton as well, I think.

Carl and Kathy Ashcroft who died from gunshot wounds in California
Carl and Kathy Ashcroft described as a "devoted" couple. Police in California say they are not looking for anyone else in connection with their deaths caused by gunshot injuries.

"The last time I saw Carl was before they left to go on their big adventure living in California, just over two years ago. Kathy was a Flordian by birth, Carl met her in Florida. They did buy a house in Florida a few years ago, they would spend some time there then come back to Wigan. But they ended up selling it and moving on.

"I remember Carl coming in one day looking at buying another bike and saying that they were planning on moving to California and going to Palm Springs and that they were only a couple of blocks away from the Kardashians. He embraced the American way of life. I would see pictures of him and Kathy driving around Santa Monica.

Rancho Mirage near Palm Springs
Rancho Mirage - an oasis for golfers near Palm Springs.

"They did everything together, they appeared to be inseperable that was my perception of them. They were very much a couple. That's why it was such a big shock. The gun thing came as a total surprise.

"It was devasting news not only for me but everyone at the shop - there was quite a few who knew Carl and Kathy."

It is understood the couple leave children and grandchildren. "They did dote on the children and grandchildren, just like they did on each other," Dave added. "They were very family orientated. That makes it such a big shock. You just could not see that coming. But, like people say, you don't know what goes on behind closed doors."

In a statement the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office in California, said: “On November 12, 2023, at about 2.15pm, deputies from the Palm Desert Sheriff Station responded to a report of an attempt suicide at a residence on Lyon Street, in the city of Rancho Mirage.

Pem Taxis in Wigan
Pem Taxis owned by Carl Ashcroft.

"Deputies arrived within minutes and located a male and a female with gunshot wounds. The male victim succumbed to his injuries at the scene.

"The female victim was transported to a local hospital and succumbed to her injuries. Deputies secured the area as a crime scene and investigators from the Palm Desert Sheriff Station responded.

"The Central Homicide Unit also responded and assumed the. investigation. The identity of those involved will not be released, pending next of kin notification.

"This case is being investigated as a murder/suicide. There are no outstanding suspects and there is no threat to the community. The investigation is currently on-going and no further information will be released at this time.

If anyone has information regarding this investigation, they are encouraged to call Master Investigator Navarrete with the Central Homicide Unit at 951-955-2777 or Investigator Evans at the Palm Desert Sheriff Station at 760-836-1600.”

A further statement issued this yesterday evening added: "The victim in this case was identified as Kathryn Ashcroft, a 55-year-old resident of Simi Valley. The suspect has been identified as Carl Ashcroft, a 61-year-old resident of Simi Valley."

A city in the Coachella Valley, Rancho Mirage is a popular holiday destination for golfers, has hosted the Ryder Cup and PGA Tour events. It is one of the biggest holiday spots and known as "Golf Capital of the World" and "Playground of the Presidents", with Gerald Ford living there before his death, as well as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Bing Crosby. PemTaxis was approached for comment.