Friends of a Michigan woman, who shot and killed her family before turning the gun on herself, say they are shocked.
“I couldn’t believe it,” longtime friend Joyce Taylor told the Detroit Free Press of 45-year-old Lauren Stuart fatally shooting herself and her family in what police have declared a murder-suicide. “I just couldn’t believe it.”
Lauren 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 that have since been identified as belonging to Lauren, husband Daniel, 47, and their two adult children: Steven, 27, and Bethany 24, the news release states.
Both of Lauren’s children were in college, according to the Free Press. David was a data solutions architect for the University of Michigan’s Center for Integrative Research in Critical Care, according to Michigan Daily.
On her LinkedIn page, Lauren listed herself as a model, and part-time personal trainer at a Detroit metro-area YMCA.
The victims had all been shot in the head, WXYZ reports. A handgun was located at the scene.
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Speaking to the Free Press, Taylor, who last saw Lauren a week before the incident, said that the couple were very much in love but had 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.”
Taylor said she and some other friends worried an incident from five years earlier pushed Lauren to kill herself and her family.
Five years ago, the family had been shunned from the Jehovah’s Witness church because of “doctrinal and social issues”, she claims.
Over the weekend, Taylor went to a Kingdom Hall meeting to deliver a message to the group, which she recorded and later uploaded to YouTube.
“Excuse me everyone, my name is Joyce Taylor,” she says. “Two days ago, four people died as a result of your shunning process.”
“Five years ago you people pulled your support from this small family, the only support they had was you people. You turned them away and you shunned them,” she continued.
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Taylor told the Free Press 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, not even family, can contact you.
“[Lauren] was in emotional distress,” Taylor told the paper. “She felt alone. I was her lifeline.”
A representative from the Union Lake Kingdom Hall could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Keego Harbor police have not released a motive at this time. The investigation is still ongoing.