The mayor of Coppell, Texas recently took her own life after shooting her daughter in a murder-suicide that has the community reeling. This is horrible in every sense of the word. Two lives are lost in a tragedy that one would hope could have been avoided. Somehow. Yeah, this is the kind of thing where “Hindsight is 20/20” is about the only thing you can say … and it falls ridiculously short.
The mayor of an upscale Dallas suburb apparently shot her teenage daughter to death before fatally shooting herself, after leaving notes at their home warning officers about the scene they would find and outlining how to manage family affairs, police said Wednesday.
An envelope taped to the front door of Mayor Jayne Peters’ home contained a key to the house and a typed note advising police they would discover something unpleasant inside, Coppell Deputy Police Chief Steve Thomas said.
Three other notes contained instructions for handling affairs, such as taking care of the family dogs, but did not provide explanations for the deaths of the 55-year-old Peters and her 19-year-old daughter, Corinne.
“It appeared to me that there had been some thought,” Thomas said.
I find it just unspeakably awful that this woman had the presence of mind to offer directions for taking care of the dogs—and even warning police that the scene was going to be pretty bad—yet being cold and calculated enough to kill her daughter. This isn’t something I will ever understand.
Although there’s been speculation to date, and ideas as to what was going on in the household that may have prompted this, there hasn’t been any concrete reason given to date:
A small collection of flowers, wreaths and cards decorated the front porch of the Peters’ 3,850 square-foot brick home, where the mayor and her daughter lived alone. A printed letter said: “Please know that you are loved no matter what happens. I know that God is with you and giving you comfort. You both are with Don, a wonderful husband and father. A family again.”
The mayor’s husband, Donald Peters, died of cancer in 2008 at the age of 58.
Okay, maybe the fairly recent death of her husband combined with the prospect of her daughter going away to school (Corinne Peters had just graduated from high school and was looking forward to attending the University of Texas at Austin) drove Jayne Peters over the edge and she just snapped. I can neither condone nor relate to this, but it is at least a somewhat plausible explanation. Others closer to the case are saying that the issue may have been a financial one — Jayne’s husband who passed away in 2008 was said to have no health insurance, and their family home was allegedly in foreclosure. Her daughter’s schooling was another point of contention — phone calls to the University of Texas in Austin revealed that Corrine never was enrolled at the University. To date, Corinne’s friends had no idea where (or if) she was going to college. Clearly, there were more issues that meet the eye.
I know we can’t all go around calling crisis hotlines every time one of our friends, family members, or neighbors behaves a little oddly. That’s just patently ridiculous. However, it seems to me that allowing this terrible event to serve as a reminder to “keep our eyes” open may be the true moral of the story, tarnished as it may be, to be gleaned from this happening.