GLENDALE, MO (KPLR) - A Glendale woman did, indeed shoot her two children, then turn the gun on herself Monday. That’s the determination of Major Case Squad investigators after five days of digging into the evidence of a case that has shaken the small St. Louis suburb.
It was Monday morning that police received two phone calls from Mitch Murch, the husband and father of the dead, saying his wife, Catherine Murch, had shot their nine year old daughter Mary Claire and their eleven year old son Mitchell. He told police she had then turned the gun on herself.
The lengthy investigation had many in the community speculating about whether the murder-suicide version of events was true. Friday, police told reporters that it was.
“I do believe this incident is as it was reported. I think this is a very tragic murder suicide,” Major Case Squad Deputy Commander, Lt. Tim Fagan, said in a news conference Friday afternoon.
Fagan, for the first time, addressed reports that Catherine Murch, 42, had been suffering from depression.
“Certainly there is a mental health history there,” he said. “The family was under some strain. They were under some financial strain.”
But, he says, the depression issues went well beyond recent weeks. It was, however, in the past few weeks things got worse.
“The last couple of weeks the picture we have is it had been exceedingly hard for her and she’d been having a difficult time,” Fagan said.
Among the things leading investigators toward confirming the murder-suicide report, were the actions of Catherine Murch in that period leading up to the killings. There was online activity that was alarming.
“There were some internet searches that were conducted by Catherine in the days leading up to this that were specific to this type of an incident,” Fagan said.
Then on July 28th, just two days before the killing, Fagan says Murch went to an area gun store. Police produced the receipt for a pistol, which they say she left the store with, then used to shoot the kids and herself the following Monday.
Police were hesitant to detail the chain of events, but say Mary Claire was shot once in an upstairs room of the home. Mitchell was shot multiple times in a downstairs room, Catherine Murch was found in the kitchen with a single gunshot wound which an autopsy determined was self-inflicted.
Police say the entire series of events happened very quickly, precluding any possibility of Mitchell Murch, who was reading in another room, from being able to save anyone.
“I don’t know if there was much opportunity for him to intervene is probably a better way to say it outside of ‘he didn’t try,’” Fagan said. “I think was that there was not much opportunity.”
There had been plenty of questions about Murch’s reaction to the gunshots. Police cleared up confusion about the fact he Murch called 9-1-1 twice, first reporting shots, then the killings. They said the only reason he called more than once was that the system somehow dropped his initial call, so he called back.
As for the length of the investigation, and suspicion it may have cast on Murch in the community, Fagan says it should not have been perceived that way.
“I can assure everyone that we have looked at this from every single angle. We did that out of responsibility, not necessarily because there was one glaring thing that pointed us one way or another.”
Of all the answers he had, there’s one Lt. Fagan couldn’t muster. It’s the answer to the question everyone has asked at some point: how can a mother shoot her two kids?
Fagan began an answer, “I have a picture of someone who loved her children very, very much. And I know that’s difficult for all of us to…..”
It was there he paused, seeming to fight back his own emotions. The veteran homicide detective stood silent for twenty-two seconds trying to regain his composure.
He then excused himself and finished his sentence, saying this is, “difficult for all of us to understand.”
Difficult, if not impossible.