Category: suicide

Collin County, Texas, cps, custody, death, families, family, law, murder, suicide
Mother Kills Child Before Turning Gun on Herself

Police say apparent murder-suicide occurred after judge awarded custody to father

By Frank Heinz
|  Saturday, Oct 22, 2011  |  Updated 6:32 PM CDT

Ellen Goldberg, NBC 5 News

Police say the apparent murder-suicide occurred shortly after a judge awarded custody to the boy’s father.

A woman shot and killed her 7-year-old son before turning the gun on herself late Friday morning in Sachse, police said.

Officers forced their way into the home after hearing gunshots and found 43-year-old Karen Hayslett-McCall and 7-year-old Eryk Hayslett-McCall in an upstairs bedroom at about 10:30 a.m.

Sachse police were at the home in the 7100 block of Longmeadow Drive as a precaution when her estranged husband, Rodney McCall, arrived to pick up his son.

McCall had received sole custody of the child in a court hearing at 10 a.m.

“The father knocked on the front door,” Sachse police Chief Dennis Veach said. “We were simply standing by and at both front and rear of the house when we heard three shots from within the house.”

Veach said police had been to the home on several locations but there were not allegations of serious violence.

Police said Hayslett-McCall and her husband were in the midst of bitter divorce proceedings. Veach said police did not know why the father had been given sole custody of their son.

Hayslett-McCall had accused her husband of molesting their son last fall.  A grand jury later found no evidence of a crime, and McCall was cleared.

But McCall had lost his job as a high school teacher.

McCall’s attorney told the Wylie school board in November that the case was “an allegation brought by a woman who is about to lose custody of her children,” the Wylie News reported.

He also told the board that Hayslett-McCall, a former police officer who has a doctorate in criminal justice and a master’s degree in psychology, knew how to manipulate the justice system, the newspaper reported.

The couple had been battling over custody of Eryk for more than a year.

They filed for divorce in Collin County in March 2010, and temporary custody orders were in place in April 2010. By November, an attorney was appointed for the child.

The judge ordered psychological evaluations in January 2011. Jurors were sworn in on Monday for opening statements, and McCall won custody of his son Friday.

Lt. Marty Cassidy said the officers were visibly shaken but did the best they could in a really bad situation.

“It’s a terribly, terribly sad, tragic event, you know, when one person makes a life decision for another who doesn’t have a vote in that decision,” Veach said.

Police said although other family members were at the residence, they were outside greeting police when the shooting happened.

Officials will work with the Collin County medical examiner to confirm the cause of death, but it appears the woman shot the child and then herself.

Hayslett-McCall was a professor at the University of Texas at Dallas. UT Dallas released the following statement:

“The UT Dallas community is deeply saddened to learn of this tragic news. Our thoughts and concerns are with the family. Karen Hayslett-McCall left the university faculty in June 2011 and has had no official position with the university since then.”

NBC 5’s Kevin Cokely and Ellen Goldberg contributed to this report.

Tuesday’s thoughts:

Was this custody battle worth it?

child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, death, family, foster care, government, suicide, system failure
Abuse changes brains of suicide victims

Source:By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor
Tue May 6, 9:47 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Suicide victims who were abused as children have clear genetic changes in their brains, Canadian researchers reported on Tuesday in a finding they said shows neglect can cause biological effects.

The findings offer potential ways to find people at high risk of suicide, and perhaps to treat them and prevent future suicides.

And, the researchers said, they also offer insights into how neglect and abuse can perpetuate unhealthy behavior through the generations.

Moshe Szyf of McGill University in Montreal and colleagues studied the brains of 18 men who committed suicide and who were also abused or neglected as children, and compared them to 12 men who also died suddenly but from other causes, and who were not abused, although some had various psychiatric problems such as anxiety disorders.

They found changes in the genetic material of all 18 suicide victims. The changes were not in the genes themselves, but in the ribosomal RNA, which is the genetic material that makes proteins that in turn make cells function.

These changes involved a chemical process called methylation, a so-called epigenetic change involving the processes of turning genes on and off, they reported in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS ONE, available at http://www.plosone.org/doi/pone.0002085 .

“The big remaining questions are whether scientists could detect similar changes in blood DNA — which could lead to diagnostic tests — and whether we could design interventions to erase these differences in epigenetic markings,” Szyf said in a statement.

Dr. Eric Nestler of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas said both drugs and psychotherapy may act to reverse some of these changes.

CHANGING THE BRAIN

“Ultimately we believe that a person who gets better from psychotherapy is inducing changes in the brain,” Nestler told reporters at a meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in Washington where similar research was discussed.

Szyf’s colleague, Michael Meaney, has shown in animals that parental abuse and neglect can affect the brains and behavior of offspring.

He has studied the brains of rats, for whom parental care can be demonstrated in how much the mother grooms her pups.

“You can put two rats on a table and tell which one is raised by a low-licking mother. The one reared by a low-licking mother is more nervous, and fatter,” Meaney said in an interview at the Psychiatric Association meeting.

Images of the brain cells of the rats show the brain cells of low-licking mothers have fewer dendrites. These are the strands that help one neuron communicate with another.

Meaney, who also worked on the suicide study, said the research, taken together, demonstrates how early experiences can cause physical changes in the brain.

He said female rats reared by low-licking mothers reached puberty earlier, meaning they had more offspring.

Similar findings are true of humans, who often have children at younger ages when times are stressful. The best way to pass along genes in uncertain times is to have more children, he said.

(Editing by Julie Steenhuysen and Sandra Maler)