The mayor of an affluent Dallas suburb shot and killed her 19-year-old daughter and then turned the gun on herself. The two were found Tuesday evening when the usually prompt mayor failed to show up at a meeting. A letter greeted the police on the front door, warning them of the unpleasant scene they would be encountering when they walked inside the home.

Mayor Jayne Peters had worked for the city in some capacity since 1998. Her daughter, Corinne, had graduated from Coppell High School and was looking forward to attending college in the fall.

We know there were letters left regarding financial matters and family pets, but nothing else has been revealed regarding Peters’ possible motivation for such a horrendous act. Familicide by a mother is extremely rare, especially when a much-older child is involved. We have seen mothers kill their younger children for a variety of reasons, such as postpartum psychosis or trauma from a high-conflict divorce. Fathers perpetrate this act of violence in greater numbers, but it is still extremely rare.

Jayne Peters‘ husband (Corinne’s father) died two years ago from cancer. Often, familicide is related to financial pressures the family is experiencing, and the fear that the children will be left uncared for in a cruel world. In a way, the homicide is an extension of the first intention, which is suicide.

It is very likely that this horrible incident is related to the loss of the father and depression or financial pressure because of that death. It is also possible that the idea of her daughter going off to college seemed like another death for Jayne in some way, and she believed that the best way for the whole family to be together again was by death. Either way, this is a terrible tragedy. What is truly sad is that the perpetrator of this type of violence fails to realize that there is always family left behind to deal with what is now unimaginable pain, suffering, confusion and anger.

If only she had found a way to get help before she took this unimaginable step.