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Civil suit filed over cruise ship tragedy

LISBON – The two estates of a Salem couple who died in the spring of 2015 in an apparent murder-suicide aboard a cruise ship are now involved in a civil dispute in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court.

According to the lawsuit filed late last week, Amanda Jackson, serving as the interim administrator for the estate of Darla Jean Mellinger Banner, has filed a lawsuit seeking in excess of $25,000 from Greg C. Banner, the administrator for the estate of John Carl Banner.

John Carl Banner and his wife of less than a year, Darla Jean Mellinger Banner, had boarded a Holland American cruise ship in Tampa, Fla., on March 29, 2015, for a 14-day voyage. On April 2, while docked in Puerto Rico, the couple was found dead in their stateroom by crew members of the MS Ryndam.

The lawsuit accuses John Carl Banner of intentionally and forcefully striking Darla Jean Mellinger Banner, as well as, strangling her, choking, suffocating, asphyxiating, physically abusing her and causing her untimely death. She died at the age of 56 and is reportedly survived by her son, Joshua Mellinger, and her mother, Carol Jewell, as well as others.

The lawsuit also claims she reasonably could be expected to have earned at least $480,000 during the remaining 28 years of her life expectancy.

The couple, both retired, had reportedly married on Oct. 2, 2014 in the Salem Historical Society’s Heritage Garden.

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