A family from the sleepy town of Keego Harbor, Michigan, is dead, and friends believe that ostracism from the Jehovah's Witnesses community may have triggered the murder-suicide.
Lauren Stuart, 45, is accused of killing her husband and two adult children before killing herself. The four bodies were discovered on Friday after a relative asked police to conduct a welfare check, according to the Detroit Free Press. All had died from gunshot wounds.
From the outside looking in, it looked like a perfect family. The Detroit Free Press reported that the couple was successful and that both of their children became college-educated kids. The dad, Daniel, wanted to send the two adult children — Steven, 27 and Bethany, 24 — to college, but the religion looks down on higher education. In the end, the family decided to ignore that and put their kids through college, and both reportedly excelled — Steven at computers and Bethany at graphic design.
Friends are telling the outlet that Stuart never got over the rejection from the religious community that she and her husband were raised in. Five years ago, they left the Jehovah's Witnesses.
Family friend Joyce Taylor told the Detroit Free Press that the Stuarts left the religion because of "doctrinal and social issues." Taylor added that leaving isn’t easy. In fact, once one leaves, they are shunned and nobody still attached to the religion is allowed to speak to them ever again, Taylor said.
Taylor made her theory of Lauren Stuart’s motive known.
Over the weekend, she interrupted a Jehovah’s Witnesses meeting to yell, “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. For what? Because they wanted to raise their children as they saw fit.”
Daniel was data solutions architect for the University of Michigan’s Center for Integrative Research in Critical Care.
"Dan was an extraordinarily talented individual and highly valued team member who was making very important contributions," Dr. Kevin Ward, center executive director, said in a statement, according to MLive. "Despite his immense talent, he was very humble and was always excited that his contributions may one day help save lives. He will be sorely missed."