PEOPLE Explains: Texas Mom Murdered Husband and 2 Sons Before Killing Herself at Luxury Resort
Police are trying to determine a motive for the shocking murder-suicide in Texas
On Monday morning, an unthinkable crime occurred in Galveston, Texas.
According to police, a 37-year-old mother fatally shot her husband and their two sons before killing herself. The violence transpired inside a room at the San Luis Hotel on Galveston Island — an upscale spa and resort on the sandy beaches of the Gulf of Mexico.
The tragedy remains under investigation, as many unanswered questions remain. Here are five things you need to know about the case.
1. The Family Checked Into the Resort Hours Before the Killings
The suspected killer, Flor De Maria Pineda Canas, along with her 39-year-old husband, Mauricio Canas, and their two boys, 10-year-old Mauricio Jr. and 5-year-old David, had checked into the San Luis Hotel mere hours before other guests called 911 after hearing a quick succession of gunshots, according to a statement from the Galveston Police Department.
Responding officers arrived and were directed to the eighth floor. They found the room’s door dead-bolted, and could could hear “faint moaning coming from inside the suspected room and began to make entry,” the statement explains.
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After breaching the room, police found the husband and two boys “lying in bed, all with gunshot wounds.” Investigators believe they were killed as they slept, and that moments later, Flor took her own life. Police found a handgun next to her lifeless body.
2. The Killer Was Religious, May Have Suffered From Depression
Those who knew her claim that Flor Canas was earnestly religious and had been a member of Iglesia Cristo Viene in their hometown of Baytown, Texas, for more than seven years. The family, ABC 13 reports, attended mass together the Sunday morning before their deaths.
“Most of the members are in shock because this is a person that was always looking for ways to help the community,” Leonila Olivares, an ordained minister, told ABC 13. “She had a servant heart.”
Talk amongst the congregation, Olivares explained, is that Flor was not suffering from emotional distress. “They’re thinking that it was because of her depression,” she said.
3. One Boy in Kindergarten, the Other in 5th Grade
According to reports, the two boys were both students at the Victoria Walker Elementary School in Baytown, a suburb of Houston. Mauricio Jr. was in the fifth grade, and David was in kindergarten.
A spokeswoman for the school, Beth Dombrowa, issued a statement to the Houston Chronicle on Monday.
“The tragic circumstances surrounding these students’ deaths are almost too much to bear,” it reads. “A student death can have a ripple effect on a school community and, because of this and out of concern for the students’ classmates and the campus faculty, we will have additional counseling services at the school. We are grieving for the loss of young life and its infinite possibilities and we pray for the family, friends and students most affected by this tragedy.”
4. Motive For The Killings Still Unclear
Detectives still do not know what drove Canas to kill her family at around 4:30 a.m., but they’re positive she was the killer.
“Forensic data collected at the scene indicates that the female is believed to be the shooter at this time, and is believed to have killed her two children and her husband before apparently taking her own life with a 9mm handgun found adjacent to her body,” the statement from Galveston Police explains.
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Canas and one of her children “were unresponsive but still appeared to be alive” when officers arrived. All four were transported to a nearby hospital where they were pronounced dead.
5. Murder-Suicide Was Second Fatal Shooting Incident at Resort in Recent Months
Back in April, a security guard working at the San Luis Hotel was shot to death.
Phillip Molis, 23, was in the resort’s rear parking lot on April 9 when he noticed three suspicious men. According to ABC 13, Molis approached the men, who opened fire, hitting him several times.
Molis underwent complicated surgeries, but died a week later from his wounds, the station reports. Brandon Ledford, 19, has been charged with his murder and was detained in October.
Ledford has not entered a plea to the charge against him, and remains in police custody without bail. Information about whether he has retained an attorney was not immediately available.