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The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH)
September 12, 1998
Author: KEVIN HARTER PLAIN DEALER REPORTER
Note: Ann Tracy, Ph.D., Executive Director of the International Coalition for Drug Awareness, spoke with family members and confirmed that this man was taking Prozac at the time of the murder-suicide.
First-grade classmates of Eric Biris Jr. penned and colored condolences yesterday after the murders of his little sister and mother and the suicide of his father.
“They are concerned about Eric and they want to know he is OK,” said Goldwood Primary School Principal Jean A. Rounds. “They want to share their feelings with him and, hopefully, bring him some comfort.” Some colored rainbows, or a shining sun over a field of flowers, while others drew friends holding hands. One wrote that the class “missed him,” another wrote they “can’t wait until he comes back,” and others expressed empathy or sorrow for him and his family.
The school district’s crisis intervention team, including guidance counselors and a psychologist, were also available yesterday for students, parents and teachers, Rounds said.
“Our immediate concern this morning was how do we respond to the children and their needs,” Rounds said. “Under the circumstances, the children are doing quite well.”
School officials also sent a letter home to explain what had happened and what was being done to help.
After school Thursday, Eric returned to his family’s River Oaks Dr. apartment to find his mother and father lying on the floor. He ran to the apartment complex manager’s office, who called Rocky River police about 4 p.m. Twenty-four hours later, the Cuyahoga County coroner completed her examination of Eric Biris, 29; his wife, Pamela, 27; and their daughter, Drew, 4.
Coroner Elizabeth K. Balraj yesterday ruled the deaths of Pamela and Drew homicides. Each had been shot once in the back of the head with a .45-caliber handgun. Biris died of a self-inflicted gunshot to the head.
“The facts of the case are clear. They speak for themselves,” said Rocky River Detective Gus Carlson. “But we may never know the motive.”
The investigation includes interviewing neighbors, family members and co-workers to determine if there had been arguments or disagreements. Police were also sifting through the apartment for any clues or evidence of what might have triggered the deadly violence.
Drew’s health is also being looked at as a possible motive. The girl, who was stricken with leukemia, had traveled to Disney World in Orlando, Fla., with her family. The Birises left Aug. 30 and returned the weekend of Sept. 4.
“She had her wish through the Make a Wish Foundation,” said the foundation’s president, Alan Dahart.
The trip was one of 190 provided so far this year by Make a Wish.
Carlson said police were checking to see if Drew had been to see a doctor this week or if the family had been given any new, troubling medical information.
Police took Eric to the police station, where his physical and psychological needs were tended to by counselors and Children Services workers.
He is staying with grandparents, according to police and school officials.
Neighbors and family friends John and Heather Rainey spent a sleepless night replaying recent events in a fruitless attempt to CBmake sense of Biris’ actions.
Drew and Eric were to come over to their home, as they often did, about 4 p.m., John Rainey said. “I just don’t understand. … He did it right before Eric came home,” John Rainey said. After the family had returned from their Disney trip, Rainey had asked Biris about it.
“He said it was OK, but he wasn’t ecstatic about it like most people would be,” Rainey said. “And I asked him when we were going to finish building his drum set. He said we weren’t.”