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The Florida Times-Union
May 9, 1998
Author: Associated Press
Note: Ann Tracy, Ph.D., Executive Director of the International Coalition for Drug Awareness, spoke with family members and confirmed that this woman was taking Prozac at the time of the murders.
MOBILE, Ala. — Authorities were no closer yesterday to a complete explanation for what drove a Georgia woman to kill her 4-year-old grandson and the boy’s 3-year-old stepsister before taking her own life on a visit to Mobile.
Friends in Moultrie, remembered Dorothy Tolbert, 53, as a bubbly gospel singer who volunteered at the local nursing home. Police and Tolbert’s ex-husband called it a senseless tragedy.
The shootings occurred Wednesday morning at the home of Tolbert’s son, Patrick Tolbert. Police said Dorothy Tolbert pressed the barrel of a .38-caliber pistol to the heads of Brett Childress and Hadley Perkins and shot them, then killed herself, leaving nothing in writing about it.
Police Sgt. Mark Ward said Brett was Patrick Tolbert’s son from a previous relationship with Candida Marie Childress of Birmingham. The boy had been in the custody of the Department of Human Resources until Tolbert gained temporary custody, Ward said. But the court had not completely settled the dispute.
Hadley was the daughter of Tolbert’s wife, Stephanie. The Tolberts together have an infant child and Stephanie Tolbert also has another daughter. Neither of the other children were injured.
The family moved into the house three years ago on a quiet south Mobile street. Neighbors said it was neatly kept and the children had expensive toys.
“We don’t know what happened, what triggered her; it was just a tragic thing,” said Pete Tolbert, the suicide victim’s former husband. The couple divorced 25 years ago, and he said he had not seen her in 20 years.
Whatever caused the shootings, “God had a reason for it, and only good can come out of it,” said Pete Tolbert, who still lives in Mobile.
Back in Moultrie, Dorothy Tolbert’s friends, who knew her as Dottie, were stunned. They said she sang in a gospel group called Singing Praises. “We loved her,” said Judy Casteel, activities director at a nursing home where Tolbert did volunteer work. “She was always on that platform just bubbling.”
Tolbert had bought new furniture last week in preparation for a move from Moultrie to Florida.
Her pastor, the Rev. Calvin Bobo at the Autreyville Baptist Church, said his congregation is struggling to comprehend the shootings.
“We’re praying for her family. She was a fine Christian lady, and we are going to miss her,” Bobo said.
Mobile Police Maj. Tommy Calhoun said Thursday the pistol used in the shootings apparently belonged to Dorothy Tolbert, who brought it with her from Georgia.
The children will be buried at 2 p.m. today in Mobile.