(KEEGO HARBOR, Mich.) — Autopsies show a suburban Detroit woman fatally shot her husband, son and daughter before killing herself. ...
martedì 6 febbraio 2018
American Carnage: Mother killed baby and husband, then herself
ST. LOUIS • Investigators believe the mother of a 3-month-old girl was the shooter in a double-murder-suicide that left her, her husband and their infant daughter dead last week, a police source said.
The three were officially identified by police Monday as Mary Jo Trokey, 32, Matthew Trokey, 33, and their daughter Taylor Rose Trokey. A spokeswoman for the department declined to release further information in the ongoing investigation.
But a police source said Mary Jo Trokey is believed to have been the shooter. Investigators are tracking her purchase of a gun in the days before the shooting that occurred late Thursday or early Friday. They are investigating mental illness as a possible factor, the source said.
Experts on mental illness in new mothers say it’s possible postpartum psychosis may have played a role in the deaths.
Postpartum psychosis is a rare disorder marked by delusional and irrational behavior that is triggered by pregnancy and childbirth.
Most women with postpartum psychosis do not harm themselves or others. Those who do kill their children are betrayed by their own maternal instinct, which becomes twisted to believe death is the only way to protect them, said St. Louis psychologist Diane Sanford, who specializes in postpartum mood disorders.
Up to 85 percent of new mothers experience mood swings, sadness and anxiety in the first days or weeks after childbirth. For 15 percent to 20 percent of women, the typical “baby blues” do not resolve within a few weeks and can progress to debilitating anxiety and depression at any point in the first year.
“Usually the first indication that it’s anxiety is when she’s distraught by it … she recognizes this is not typical or healthy,” said Erin Poniewaz, a mother-baby intensive outpatient program therapist at Mercy Hospital in Creve Coeur.
But a woman with postpartum psychosis, experienced by up to 1 in 1,000 new mothers, does not realize she is in trouble and acting irrationally, Poniewaz said. She may hear voices or have other hallucinations or paranoid delusions.
The sleep deprivation experienced in the newborn phase can contribute to the break from reality.
“When you’re not sleeping, your mind plays tricks on you, and you can lose your footing really quickly,” Poniewaz said.
While most women with postpartum psychosis do not become violent, some can feel like they don’t deserve their children, or that their children would be better off without them. The mother may also feel that if she can’t be with the baby, no one else can.
The Trokeys had been attending St. Raphael the Archangel Catholic Church in their St. Louis Hills neighborhood for about two years, said the Rev. Bob Reiker. A church newsletter in December congratulated the couple on the Dec. 17 baptism of their daughter.
Reiker said he performed the baptism. Reiker described the couple as friendly and said they regularly attended Sunday Mass; he said Mary Jo Trokey was active in the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
“It’s hard to imagine what happened,” Reiker said. “People are baffled by it. It’s inexplicable how someone could do this to themselves, let alone their little girl.”
St. Louis has seen several high-profile cases of mothers killing their children. Paula Sims of Alton is serving life without parole in the Logan Correctional Center near Lincoln, Ill., after admitting to killing her two newborn daughters three years apart in the 1980s. Sims blames postpartum psychosis for putting demons in her head.
In 2012, three mothers from the St. Louis area killed their children and themselves. Christine Adewunmi of west St. Louis County drove her three daughters Lauren, 8, Samantha, 6, and Kate, 3, to a remote spot near Bourbon, Mo., in March 2012 and shot the children and herself with a handgun.
That July, Catherine Murch, 42, shot and killed her children, Mitchell III, 10, and Mary Claire, 8, and herself while her husband was in another part of their Glendale home. Then in September, Lisa Cochran, 32, of De Soto, shot and killed her three daughters — Alyssa Cochran, 11, Autumn Cochran, 10, and Faith Ehlen, 22 months — and herself outside their home.
Postpartum depression and psychosis are treatable with medication, peer support and therapy. Most cases of postpartum psychosis require a period of hospitalization.
There is no standard timeline for screening women for postpartum depression. New mothers typically see their obstetrician/gynecologist once, six weeks after giving birth. Some pediatricians have started asking moms about depression and anxiety, because parents and babies typically visit them more frequently throughout the first year.
“One thing we know for sure is that being quiet about it and not reaching out makes the healing process take a whole lot longer,” said Kim Martino-Sexton, a postpartum resource coordinator at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital.
Intervention is crucial for new mothers to overcome such struggles, experts said.
“This is a critical opportunity to have these difficult conversations and get women the help they need,” Poniewaz said. “They’re not alone, they’re not to blame, and they will get well.”