PEOPLE Explains: Michigan Model Kills Her Family in Murder-Suicide
The family was found dead in their home
Last week, a family of four was found dead in their Michigan home in an apparent murder-suicide. Police announced that the family’s mother, Lauren Stuart, 45, had fatally shot her husband and two adult children.
A motive has not yet been released for the murder-suicide.
Here are four things to know about the case:
1. Relatives Asked Police to Conduct a Welfare Check on Family
Stuart and her family were found dead in their Keego Harbor home Friday after a concerned relative called the police and requested a welfare check, police said in a news release.
Upon arrival, authorities discovered four bodies in the home. The victims had all been shot in the head, according to Keego Harbor police. A handgun was located at the scene, and the family’s dog had also been fatally shot.
The victims have since been identified as Stuart, husband Daniel Stuart, 47, and their two adult children: Steven Stuart, 27, and Bethany Stuart, 24, according to a police news release.
2. Stuart Was a Model and Part-Time Personal Trainer at Local YMCA
On her LinkedIn page, Stuart listed herself as a model, and part-time personal trainer at a Detroit metro-area YMCA.
Her husband, Daniel, was a University of Michigan software architect at the school’s Center for Integrative Research in Critical Care, according to the Detroit Free Press.
“Dan was an extraordinarily talented individual and highly valued team member who was making very important contributions,” Kevin Ward, the executive director of CIRCC, said in a statement to the Free Press. “Despite his immense talent, he was very humble and was always excited that his contributions may one day help save lives. He will be sorely missed.”
Both of Stuart’s children were in college, according to the Free Press.
3. Friends Said Murder-Suicide Followed Shunning by Church
Longtime friend Joyce Taylor told the Free Press that she and other friends believe an incident from five years earlier might have been a factor in Stuart’s crime.
The family were part of the local Jehovah’s Witness congregation, Taylor said. But five years ago, the church shunned them.
According to Taylor, the Stuarts wanted their children to be college educated, which the church was against. She said being shunned from the church meant that no one from the church, not even other family members, can contact you.
PEOPLE’s calls to Union Lake Kingdom Hall, the former church of the Stuarts, were not returned.
4. Stuart Was Showing Signs of “Emotional Distress” Before Suicide
Taylor said she last saw her friend Stuart a week before the murders. She told the Free Press that Stuart and her husband had both been having a hard time.
“She worshiped Danny. Danny worshiped her. They were like hand in glove,” Taylor told the paper. “But she was very concerned about Dan. He was prone to depression and she was always worried about him.”
Authorities have not yet released a motive for the incident. The investigation is still ongoing.
“[Stuart] was in emotional distress,” Taylor told the paper looking back. “She felt alone. I was her lifeline.”
Suicide Prevention: What to Know
Experts say some common warning signs of suicide include discussing a desire to die or feeling anxious or hopeless, like a burden, or trapped or in pain; withdrawing from others; extreme mood swings, including anger and recklessness; and abnormal sleep patterns (sleeping too much or too little).
Many suicides have multiple causes and are not triggered by one event, according to experts, who underline that suicidal crises can be overcome with help. Where mental illness is a factor, it can be treated.
Reaching out to those in need is a simple and effective preventative measure, experts say.