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Crime News Family Crimes

Oklahoma Mom and Her Three Children Dead in Triple Murder-Suicide Following Police Standoff

After a standoff, police entered the Verdigris, Oklahoma home of Brandy McCaslin, 39, on Thursday and found her and her kids — who were 9 months old, 6 years old, and 11 years old — dead inside.

By Elisabeth Ford
Killer Motive: What Drives People To Kill?

An Oklahoma woman killed her three children and herself in a murder-suicide after a standoff with authorities, according to state law enforcement.

Police made the grim discovery after entering the Verdigris home of Brandy McCaslin, 39, on Thursday and finding her and her kids — who were 9 months old, six years old, and 11 years old — dead inside, according to a news release from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.

“It was determined that McCaslin shot all three kids and then turned the weapon on herself,” the bureau said.

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Verdigris police first became aware of an incident on Thursday afternoon when an officer in the area noticed fireworks going off outside the home, according to the bureau. Police went to see what was happening and found an armed McCaslin barricaded inside her residence.

Verdigris Police Chief Jack Shackelford told Tulsa World that an unidentified woman brought one of McCaslin’s children over for a supervised visit, along with two other children. McCaslin then pointed a gun at the woman, according to Shackelford, took her own child and locked the woman and the two other children the woman brought with her in the garage.

Brandy Mccaslin and children.

While locked in the garage, the woman set off a Roman candle firework through a broken window to attract attention in hopes of getting help. When police arrived, the woman and the other two children she brought with her were able to escape, Shackelford said.

"Negotiations quickly began, as they worked to make contact with 39-year-old Brandy McCaslin," the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation stated of authorities' efforts. "A stand-off ensued for the next three hours.

“After no response, officers made entry into the home where they found McCaslin, along with her three children, dead inside,” the bureau continued.

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“We were just stunned," Josh Kerr, the pastor at First Presbyterian church in Claremore, told Oklahoma City-based TV station KWTVKerr knew McCaslin growing up, he told the station.

"It was one of those things where you saw a friend from 20 years ago who has struggled over the last years, but don't expect it to end in a scenario like this," he added, explaining that she has struggled over the years and was likely having a mental health crisis at the time of the tragedy.

Crime scene tape.

"Lots of tragedy, suicides in the family, drug use, all the brokenness we see in our communities all the time,” Kerr said.

Shackelford also said last Thursday's murder-suicide is the second such situation Verdigris police have seen in the last few months.

It never gets easy, and after a while, the general public thinks this is what you do and this is your job,” Shackelford said. “Yeah, it is what we do and it is our job, but you never become callous to it. If you do, you’re not in the right occupation.”

He said it is especially hard for first responders to separate themselves from a scene when it involves children.

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“You may not at the time because we’re programmed to just do the job, go through the paces,” he told the station. “But, it hits you later. When you sit down and start reflecting on what happened, especially if you’ve got infant kids or younger kids."

A makeshift memorial has been set up on a tree in front of the house in memory of the children. 

Bill Salwaechter, a neighbor of the family, told NBC Tulsa affiliate KJRH that he watched as authorities attempted to get McCaslin to surrender. 

"The pitiful part is those kids had nothing to do with it," he said. "Now they're gone."

If you or someone you know needs help for a mental health concern, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website or call 1-800-950-NAMI (6264). For confidential treatment referrals, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website or call the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). If it is an emergency, call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988, or call 911.

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