Three times in North Texas this year, a mother killed her children and herself, reports the Dallas Morning News. Familicide — the term for killing family members — is rare, experts say. The crimes are even more stunning when women are the killers. “I cannot recall during my career an incident where the mother was the shooter of her own children,” Navarro County Sheriff Elmer Tanner said after a familicide case there.
There are about 600 murder-suicides annually in the U.S., according to a 2011 Violence Policy Center study. The study found that murder-suicides are almost always domestic, but most don't involve children. Women were the killers in only about 10 percent of the cases. “There are very few things left in society that still shock. And when females annihilate their whole family, that still shocks,” said Denise Paquette Boots, an associate criminology professor at the University of Texas at Dallas. “You're not supposed to kill the people you brought into this world, and you're not supposed to kill the people who brought you into this world.” Neil Websdale of the National Domestic Violence Fatality Review Initiative, said the common theme he has found in family murder-suicides is a deep sense of shame.