Slain Cobb couple remembered as talented artist, supportive husband

Ellen DeLoach came to art late in life, but she came with vigor. She painted courageously and she painted furiously, physically. Her desire to be great was fierce.

She had beaten breast cancer and conquered other personal tragedies, and her work was a reflection of both her strength and her Christian faith. It was good, too, featured at Atlanta’s esteemed Bill Lowe Gallery and another in Chicago.

“She believed in painting as something that had redemptive power and could help people,” mentor and friend Michael David said.

On Thanksgiving, DeLoach was found dead inside her family's home on Camden Lake Drive in Acworth. Her husband, Michael "Brad" DeLoach, was killed as well.

Cobb County police believe 34-year-old Dustin Ray Dixon — Ellen’s son, Brad’s stepson — shot them as two other family members escaped unharmed. He was apprehended in the front yard without incident and is being held without bond on two counts of murder, four counts of aggravated assault and various weapons charges.

A possible motive remains unclear.

“All that info will be reserved for court processes, so as not to hinder the case leading up to trial,” Officer Alicia Chilton said in an email to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Ellen DeLoach had painted and drawn her whole life, David said, but only “became serious” about her art in the last six or seven years. She came under David’s wing through his Fine Arts Atelier, a program meant to highlight and further develop the work of “marginalized” artists, many women over 50 years old.

Bill Lowe, whose gallery showcased DeLoach’s work, called her a “remarkable human being and artist.”

“She represented a kind of spontaneous combustion, if you will, of energy,” Lowe said. “She hit the ground running, as they say.”

In a 2011 interview before her first showing at Lowe's gallery, DeLoach told The AJC she had married young and taken 13 years to find the courage to leave an imperfect situation. Her series of paintings exploring the Book of Ruth — the biblical tale of a woman who overcame a lifetime of hardships with the help of a man named Boaz — was a reflection of that.

And her second husband, Brad, had become her Boaz, David said.

“He didn’t speak much, but I remember in preparing for her first show, he was very very involved and supportive,” David said. “He believed in her totally.”