Police had found the body of a mother as well as those of her two children in their suburban home in Phoenix, Arizona.
Maricopa County Sheriff, Joe Arpaio reported at a news conference on Tuesday that he and his deputies are waiting for the results from the autopsy conducted before concluding the reason for the deaths of the family. KPHO noted that one thing authorities do know for sure is that all three were shot.
At the scene of the crime, authorities had found a handgun by the mother’s body, and they believe that she might have taken the children’s lives before her own. The mother has been identified as Lisa Gerhart, either 45 or 46 years of age. The identities of the children have been protected, but their ages were revealed to be 17 about the son, and the daughter was 12.
Sheriff Arpaio had said a family friend of the mother had contacted authorities on account of the suspicious activity at the Gerhart home that involved a car reversed to the house with a hose attached to the exhaust pipe, which leads to a window of the double-story house. It was in this part of the home where authorities had found the children’s bodies.
Numerous neighbors informed reporters on the unfortunate marital state in which Gerhart had recently found herself. They reported that her husband had moved out of the family home, and she was devastated.
“She wanted to talk him into staying with her and the kids. And, no,” one of Gerhart’s neighbors, Connie Rivera, said to KPHO about the incident.
Another neighbor, Judy Peaton, told KNXV-TV that Gerhart was crying on Saturday because of her husband’s decision to leave.
Authorities contacted the children’s father, the woman’s estranged husband, and are also conducting investigations as well as checking records to be able to determine whether the couple had any history of domestic violence.
Cases of murder-suicide
Numerous studies have been carried out in cases where homicide ends in suicide. According to an article published in the Journal of American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 2009, by Dr. Scott Eliason, the rate of occurrence of such a crime was below 0,001% at the time.
Eliason determined that the common factors are mostly based on the state of the relationship between the perpetrator and the victim, for example, history of domestic violence or separation and/or divorce. Or the factors are determined by the perpetrator alone, such as the history of mental illness, age and/or use of a weapon.
Some experts view the homicides as a side effect of suicide, where the decision to kill oneself leads to a perceived need to kill others. Other experts say that murder-suicide should not be placed on either homicide or suicide cases but belongs to its own distinct category. Thus, even though there are common factors among perpetrators of murder, suicide, and homicide-suicide, the latter is a particular case and should be treated as such.
Moreover, studies have shown that in states with high homicide rates, those of murder-suicides were quite small; whereas in places with low homicide rates, those of murder-suicide were found to be relatively high. The reasons for homicide-suicide, which can also be attributed to homicide cases, are often linked to amourous-related jealousy and/or failing health. Murder-homicide cases also involve filicide-suicide, which is the killing of one’s own children before oneself; familicide, which is the murder of family members by a family member; or they can be extrafamilial, as in the killing takes places outside of the family.
Eliason’s article revealed that most murder-suicide cases involve a man killing his wife, ex-wife and/or girlfriend; meaning that the perpetrator of such a crime is often a heterosexual male, which was not the case with Lisa Gerhart.
Homicide-suicide cases among married couples within older age groups, above 55-years, are likely to be related to medical illness. These cases were that the male caregiver would kill his sick wife before taking his life. Among younger couples, homicide-suicide cases are associated with separation and a history of verbal arguments. Research has shown that murder-suicide is twice as likely to occur in couples who are older than 55-years than those who are younger. Furthermore, the average age of a murder-suicide perpetrator is likely to be much older than that of one who committed murder alone.
There are many reasons as to why a person would take the life of others, and more so of someone who would take their own afterward, especially if they are a family member of the victims. The police reports have yet to mention any information relating to Lisa Gerhart’s mental state at the time leading towards the shooting. It would be difficult to confirm since the perpetrator is no longer alive to conduct a series of psychological examinations.
Source: CBS News