Fla. mom, teen kids dead in apparent murder-suicide — (CBS)

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CBS

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. Police say that a Florida mother killed her two teenage children and then herself in their home in an historic neighborhood of West Palm Beach, reports CBS affiliate WPEC. Authorities have released the father’s pained 911 call from the house.

Court and property records identify the mother as Jennifer Berman. Police say she killed her 16-year-old son Alex and 15-year-old daughter Jacquelin, both string musicians at Dreyfoos School of the Arts, and then killed herself.

“She sent me an e-mail that she did the best thing for her family,” Richard Berman, Jennifer’s ex-husband and father to Alex and Jacquelin, told a 911 operator. “Then she sent her cousin a text that she was going to kill the kids and herself.”

The three bodies were discovered by Berman and a neighbor, Kristen Plymel, on Monday morning. No official time of death has been given.

Court records reportedly show that the Bermans divorced in December and Jennifer Berman’s mother passed away in the fall. In addition, Berman’s house, which had belonged to her parents, was reportedly in foreclosure. Neighbors told WPEC that she appeared to be under stress in recent weeks.

Police confirmed that Richard Berman received e-mails overnight from Jennifer which suggested that she was a danger to herself and the children. He then called 911 while he drove to the house where the bodies were found.

“My neighbor went in and there’s blood up on the wall near her bedroom,” Berman told the operator after arriving at the house. He then had trouble keeping his composure while the operator tried to calm him down.

“They were a very nice family,” said Rod Tinson, an antiques dealer who lives on the street and had done appraisal work for the family. “It’s just sickening to hear. The kids too?”

Marian Sklodowski, who lives across the street from the Berman home, noted seeing a change in Jennifer’s demeanor in the days leading up to the incident. He said she had talked about moving but gave no indication of the tragedy that was to come.

The exact causes of death for Berman and her children are unknown. West Palm Beach Police confirmed that gunfire was involved.

 

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Autopsy: West Palm mom shot her two children in bed, then killed self — (Palm Beach Post)

By Hannah Winston – Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Posted: 9:45 a.m. Saturday, July 12, 2014

WEST PALM BEACH — Before Jennifer Berman killed herself, she shot both of her teenage children in the head while they laid in bed, according to a newly released autopsy report.

Police say Berman, 48, killed her daughter, Jacqueline, 15, and her son, Alexander, 16, in their West Palm Beach home. Their bodies were discovered Jan. 13. The medical examiner officially declared the incident a murder-suicide.

Both teens were students at Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts. Court documents show recent financial problems and a finalized divorce weeks before the killings.

When investigators entered the pink home on the 200 block of Pershing Way that January morning, they saw a hand-written note on a round, glass table.

“I am sorry to those that are hurting because they loved us…” The full note was not released in the report.

Jackie Berman (left), Alex Berman and their mother, Jennifer Berman, in an undated photo

 

They noted two open bottles of wine on a kitchen counter as they made their way through the home. Once upstairs, investigators say they saw blood on the bedroom door before they ever went inside.

They found Jennifer Berman in bed with a rifle shot to her head. The gun, a Winchester Model 94 rifle, was found between her legs and resting on her chest, according to the report. Her ex-husband and the children’s father, Richard, told a police dispatcher his wife kept her father’s old rifles in the home.

He had rushed over to the home in the El Cid neighborhood in West Palm Beach that morning after getting an email from his ex-wife, saying she was going to harm herself and her children. The email has not been released. He and a neighbor checked the house and found a bloody scene.

Jennifer Berman’s body lay in bed next to her daughter, Jacqueline, who was curled up in a fetal position, according to the report. She had been shot on the left side of her head. A gold, heart-shaped charm was found around the girl’s neck, a pink hair tie in her hair.

Though police dispatchers told him to stay out of the home, a neighbor and Berman went inside where he discovered his son’s body.

“He’s not moving and there’s blood in his ear,” he said on the 911 call.

Jackie Berman

The medical examiner said Alexander died of a gunshot wound to the back of his head. He was found in bed downstairs, lying in a fetal position, wearing plaid pajama bottoms, a watch on his left wrist.

“I can’t believe this is happening,” Berman told the dispatcher.

The Bermans were married in 1992 and officially divorced in December. Richard filed for divorce in 2008, but it was never finalized. Jennifer filed in 2012, but the two continued to live together for a time. Their home had been in foreclosure since 2010 and had just been sold. She and the kids had planned to move out in February.

Jennifer Berman lost her mother in August and was having trouble coping, her cousin, who did not want to be identified, told The Palm Beach Post in January. Antidepressants were found in her blood, according to the report.

The cousin said: “She had convinced herself that she was not going to be in a position to manage to take care of the family, that there were going to be tough times, and she really wasn’t strong enough to deal with the difficulties in life.”