Moms who Murder

Click here for an entire blog on: Dr. Michele Boudreau Deegan (55) shot her 7 y/o twin daughters before she turned the gun on herself

The Collier House

It’s October 15, 2018.  A call was made to 911 at 6.19pm. Deputies raced to the Collier house.

“They went in to secure the house. At which time they found five victims all suffering from gunshot wounds,” said the sheriff. The home is located in the 1000 block of Carters Creek Pike.

Maury County Sheriff Bucky Rowland then identified the deceased mother as Cynthia Collier, 55. The victims were Collier’s children: Bo Li, 14; Meigan Lin, 14; Lia Lin, 15; and 17-year-old Kaileigh Lin. Rowland said the four children were adopted by Collier and her husband.

A press conference was held the next day, October 16.  

“There is nothing that would lead us to believe that it’s anything other than murder-suicide,” said Bucky Rowland “This appears to be a loving home. It was an immaculate home. Very loving family. So a motive would be very important to know what would lead someone to do this to her loved ones.”

Cynthia married Randall Collier in 1982 in Norfolk, Virginia, when he was 22 and she 19. Between 2003-2008, the couple adopted four children from China.   These four children are the ones who were involved in the murder-suicide.  The couple also had three biological children, who were unharmed in this incident. 

In 2007, Cynthia and Randall apparently separated and he moved off the family property in 2009.  They adopted a child after this separation – maybe it was in the works before they decided to split?

The family moved to Columbia from Franklin in 2016, court documents show, with one of the couple’s adult children living in the home with Cynthia and the adopted children.

There was no no record of previous domestic incidents reported at the 7,500 square-foot, 36-acre Carters Creek Pike home, and it appeared to be “a very loving family.”  Cynthia had been home-schooling all the teenagers.

In March 2018, after being separated for around 10 years, Cynthia and Randall started divorce proceedings.  

According to an article in the Columbia Daily Herald – by the end of May, they were “attempting to reconcile,” according to court documents, and asked that the case be dismissed. Documents also show each of the seven children gave sworn statements during the divorce filing process.

The statements show the teenage children asking to continue living with their mother, and that they barely knew their father, even when he was living at the home prior to the separation.

The sheriff indicated in this case that Cynthia had left some evidence behind, confirming that this was a murder-suicide.

“There was some information left. It was very brief and vague that would indicate it was murder suicide.”

In December 2018, around two months after the event, more information was finally released.

Cynthia’s adult biological son was the one to discover all the bodies when he returned home from work. 

WKRN in Nashville reported that the children were killed with multiple guns, including a shotgun.

Kaileigh was found slain on the bathroom floor, 13 gunshot wounds piercing her body, the news station reported. Lia was found dead in her bed, suffering from nine gunshot wounds.

Bo was shot four times and Meigan, eight times. Like Lia, they were also killed in bed.

In the carnage, Cynthia fired 34 rounds into the children.  She then shot herself in the head.

No drugs or alcohol were found in the systems of any of the deceased.  The contents of the suicide note have never been made public.

Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles told News 2 the tragedy impacted the entire community.

“There’s a lot of angst and uncertainty and trying to figure out why and how this could happen,” Ogles said. “How could four children be taken all at once in such a violent fashion.”    

He continued, “We’ll never fully understand what happened, but maybe we can learn from it, bringing awareness to mental illness.

In this case, obituaries are available for Cynthia and the four kids.!/Obituary!/Obituary!/Obituary!/Obituary!/Obituary

It’s interesting to see how murder-suicide perpetrators are memorialised:

Cindy was a loving and devoted Mom and Grammy. She was a tender and sweet soul who always put others first. She embodied selflessness, pure love, and a childlike joyful spirit. Despite the struggles of her life she sought to live out the will of God. She was adored and treasured by all of her children.

The next case to discuss is the murder suicide of Kimbra Shanafelt (49) and her daughter Dahni (5).

On April 23, 2020, police were called to a home in Evansville Indiana.  Vanderburgh County Sheriff Dave Wedding said the deaths are being investigated as a possible double homicide at a duplex in the 300 block of Bob Court Drive in Evansville. The 911 call, placed by a concerned relative, came in to the sheriff’s office as a medical assist just before 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

A woman was found dead in the garage of the duplex, with what Wedding called “obvious trauma” to her face and body. A short time later a toddler was found dead in an upstairs bedroom, Wedding said.

At the time investigators weren’t sure of the relationship between the two victims.  “You get called out to something like this, you have a probably mother and a young child deceased; so it’s disturbing,” Dave Wedding said.

Even though the investigation was just beginning, they said our favourite statement ‘ no threat to the public’ and also said there were no suspects outside the home.  This got us all thinking – how could it be a double homicide without a suspect?

Details of the 911 call made for this case were made public:

“I think something bad’s happened,” a concerned relative told a dispatcher.

The relative said they went to the house and went inside with a key to check on Kimbra after she had not answered her phone for a couple of days.

The relative told the dispatcher they located Dahni laying halfway under a bed and “it looks like she’s thrown up or something, and she’s cold, and her eyes are halfway up in her head.”

“I need some help fast,” the relative said.

Autopsies were conducted on the pair and LE retracted their original statement that Kimbra was found with trauma to her face.  Dave Wedding spoke again after the autopsies:

“Right now, we just don’t know what happened,” he said. “We don’t have strong evidence that somebody from the outside came in and did harm to them, but we haven’t ruled that out.”

Kimbra and Dahni’s family started to talk to the media about them:

“She had kind of a quirky, off-center sense of humor. She was really compassionate,” said Dana Markee, her sister. “She was kind of the artsy type. She loved handmade jewelry and music. She liked corny jokes. She loved her kids.”

Dana also spoke about Dahni – “She hugged everyone. We could go to restaurants, and she would hug the waitress.  She never met a stranger. She loved her teacher at Highland.”

“I can say she would be absolutely shocked by how many people have been touched by all this,” Kimbra’s friend Sarah Wolf said. “She always smiled at everybody. She just did her best to provide and work hard. Her family was important to her. She had a beautiful smile. We would get in trouble in high school just for laughing.”

Dana, Kimbra’s sister also revealed that Kimbra had been diagnosed with HIV about a year before their deaths.

Following further investigation by the medical examiner, the deaths of Kimbra and Dahni were ruled a murder-suicide by carbon monoxide.  

Vanderburgh County Coroner Steve Lockyear has ruled Kimbra Shanafelt’s death was a suicide while Dahni Shanafelt’s death was a homicide. He said the deaths most likely occurred sometime on the evening April 19, based on interviews with family members.  The 911 call was made four days after their deaths.

“It’s sad, and it is puzzling. We do wish we could have known what was in the mother’s mind,” Dave Wedding said.

“We are kind of looking at it as a reckless homicide situation. We think her actions precipitated the girl’s death,” he said. “Did she plan it? We cannot be 100 percent sure.

“It’s a head-scratcher because you can’t interview anybody.”

It is thought that Kimbra most likely would have died quickly in the house’s attached one-car garage. Exhaust fumes could have seeped into the house as her vehicle continued running until using up its fuel. 

I have so many questions about this one.  Was it a true murder-suicide?  Did Kimbra only plan to kill herself and assumed Dahni would survive?  Did she kill Dahni first and then tuck her into bed?  As for the first reported trauma to her face, maybe she passed out on something in the garage which caused the trauma? 

According to their obit, the pair died on April 22 which is different to what police stated:

Evansville – Kimbra Renee Markee Shanafelt and her daughter, Dahni Jo Shanafelt passed away at their home on Thursday, April 22, 2020.

Kimbra was a 1988 graduate of Reitz High School and an optical lab technician with Armada Optical. Dahni Jo was a kindergarten student at Highland Elementary who loved animals, the Disney movie “Frozen” and the colors pink and purple.

You can see Kimbra’s facebook here.

Kimbra and Dahni

On January 24, 2020, rangers started searching the Rocky Mountains National Park in Colorado, looking for a reportedly suicidal person.  

Due to the search, traffic into the park was halted at the Beaver Meadows and Fall River entrances from about 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

An abandoned vehicle had been found in that area.

Two bodies were found on the day of the search.  Police quickly confirmed that they were Tristen Watson (24) and her 17-month-old son Christopher.

You can view Tristen’s Facebook here.

Autopsies were carried out by the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office and it was determined that Christopher died from a gunshot to the head and his death was ruled a homicide.  Tristen also died from a gunshot to the head, and her death was ruled suicide. 

At the time of her death, Tristen was pregnant with a baby girl that was due in June 2020.  Her pregnancy was confirmed in the obituary released by the family.!/Obituary

“Tristen Annette (Rogers) Watson, Christopher Alan Watson and Aspen Ann Watson passed away on Friday January 24, 2020.”

In a recent study of more than 700 pregnant women in Central Illinois, researchers found that nearly 1 in 20 women (4.6%) in the study reported having suicidal thoughts (as identified using the EPDS), which is about twice as high as observed in the general population. 

The term for depression during pregnancy is antepartum/perinatal depression and I feel like Tristen might have had a double dose – PPD from her first child, coupled with antepartum?

Another study I found titled – Systematic Review of Prevalence of Antepartum Depression during the Trimesters of Pregnancy

Analysis of the 26 articles showed that 4,303 subjects tested positive for depression in a sample of 28,248 pregnant mothers, giving the prevalence rate as 15%. 

And in my digging, I tried to find the rate of depression in women generally and according to a study titled ‘Why is depression more prevalent in women?’ by Paul R. Albert, PhD, The prevalence of major depression is higher in women than in men;6,7 in 2010 its global annual prevalence was 5.5% and 3.2%, respectively, representing a 1.7-fold greater incidence in women.

So depression during pregnancy seems to be much more prevalent.

Tristen’s husband Derrick released a statement on Facebook soon after their deaths:

The family also asked for donations in Tristen’s name to NAMI – National Alliance on Mental Illness

NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

On November 9, 2020, Sarah Hunt (39) allegedly killed her son Garrett (17). This is a developing story – check out our blog here.

On November 20, 2020, we heard news of another murder-suicide. Jakie Thomas (27) killed her three children before taking her own life. Two of her kids had special needs and she had suffered the tragedy of a stillborn child a few years ago.

One thought on “Moms who Murder

  1. Really interesting podcast with a lot of research. If there’s any critical feedback, it’s that maybe you guys can just jump into the topic straightaway even though you are both charming to listen to (just saves time for hurried listeners)!

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