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By CHRIS TRAMEL
A Smithville woman and her two teenage children were found dead Sunday morning, all the victims of an apparent murder-suicide. DeKalb County Sheriff Kenneth Pack told The Middle Tennessee Times that at 9:28 a.m. dispatchers received a 911 call concerning a shooting at 2021 Lee Braswell Road off of Short Mountain Highway.
Deputy Brent Russell and DeKalb EMS responded to the home of 36-year-old Judy Birdwell. Upon arrival authorities determined the area to be a crime scene, and Sheriff Pack, Chief Deputy Patrick Ray, Detective Jonathon Odom and TBI Agent Bob Kroffsik were called in to investigate. Sheriff Pack said that the woman’s boyfriend, Paul Haggard, had last seen the three late Saturday evening and found the bodies after he went to see the family the next morning.
Authorities speculate that the shootings had taken place several hours before being discovered. The victims, 15-year-old Jason Kyle Birdwell and 13-year-old Chasintiny Michelle Birdwell, were found in their beds, in separate bedrooms of the home.
Both children reportedly lived with their father in Cottontown, Tennessee and were visiting their mother for the weekend. The mother, 36-year-old Judy Birdwell, was found on the couch in the living room. A 380-caliber handgun was found near the body. The bodies were sent to Nashville where preliminary autopsy reports support a double murder-suicide. Authorities say that the boy was shot twice to the mid-section of the body, and the girl was shot four times to the upper body.
Authorities say that there was no sign of a struggle with either of the children. The mother reportedly showed one wound to the upper mid-section of her body. Sheriff Pack told The Times that notes and letters found at the crime scene also support the murder-suicide theory. Reports say that the woman had been fighting depression and was on prescription medication. Authorities say that prescription bottles were found at the scene.
In 1993 a Belk woman, Wilma Adcock, shot herself and her two children after reportedly battling depression with prescription medication. A Murfreesboro woman, Rosemarie Kirkwood, also shot her two children then took her own life in 1999 at a rest stop on Cookeville Highway near Hurricane Bridge after taking several prescription drugs for depression.