Before he killed his wife and three children before turning the gun on himself, a Delaware father refused his wife’s pleas to seek professional help for what she believed was depression, and the couple’s marriage was strained, a family friend tells PEOPLE.
Julie and Matthew Edwards and their three children — Jacob, 6, Brinley, 4, Paxton, 3 — were found fatally shot Monday in their Prices Corner home by a little boy who’d been dropped off for a sleepover.
Family friend Brianna Horney, tells PEOPLE that the couple’s relationship recently came under pressure after Matthew moved to North Carolina for work, and Julie, believing Matthew suffered from depression, encouraged him to seek professional help.
“Things were strained but they were trying,” Horney says. “He was suffering … and she tried to get him to get help [but] he wasn’t recognizing that he needed help.”
While Matthew moved to North Carolina, Julie stayed behind to raise their three children in Delaware, Horney says.
“She lived for her kids,” Horney says. “Her world was her kids, they were always doing something together.”
The Edwards’ 6-year-old son, Jacob, suffered from Williams syndrome, a developmental disorder, Horney says.
After his diagnosis, Julie became heavily involved with the Williams Syndrome Association, serving as regional director for the association.
When he could, Matthew would drive home to see the family, says Horney. Sometimes, Julie would take the kids down to North Carolina to see their father.
Speaking to CBS News, neighbor Wilfredo Rivera, 60, described Matthew as a seemingly normal, fun-loving father — but said Matthew had confided he and his wife were having marital problems.
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On Sunday, the day before he and his family’s bodies were found, Matthew returned to Delaware to prepare for a conference for the association in Baltimore that Julie had coordinated.
Horney says Julie texted her that the family had spent the day going to church, grabbing a bite to eat and playing at the playground.
“Matthew had just gotten home that day and she said things were okay and that he was playing with the kids [while] she was going to go pack and get ready [for the trip],” Horney says. “She was glad he was there.”
But instead of attending the conference, police say, Matthew shot and killed his entire family, and then turned the gun on himself. The family’s bodies were transported to the coroner’s office.
Horney says Matthew’s violence took everyone by surprise.
“[The trip] was going to be stressed because they had issues but we never would have pegged him for doing this,” Horney says.
Julie’s family and friends are working on a memorial service for the family. A GoFundMe page has been created to cover the cost of the funerals for the Edwards children.