In an absolutely heartbreaking tragedy out of West Palm Beach, Florida yesterday, city police confirmed that 16-year-old Alexander Berman, his 15-year-old sister Jacqueline, and their mother, Jennifer Berman, were found dead in their home. They appeared to have died of gun shot wounds in an apparent murder-suicide. Jennifer reportedly sent emails to her ex-husband and the father of the children, Richard Berman, as well as to other members of their family, saying she was going to harm herself or other family members. But by the time Richard made it to the residence, it was too late. So so horrible ...
Investigators say they do not have any suspects, but neighbors, like Marian Sklodowski, have come forward to say that Jennifer's behavior seemed "off" in the period of time preceding this horrific event.
Describing when Sklodowski last saw Jennifer two days ago, he told WPTV that the mother appeared upset, disappointed, and confused. "You can notice that, from the face, from the eyes, something was strange in her face," said Sklodowski. Neighbor Sheren Kirk also noticed something was not right as of late, explaining, "It's shocking that it happened, but I think they had a lot of stress. There's been a divorce, there's been financial problems."
In fact, Jennifer did seem to have many reasons to have been potentially suffering emotionally and mentally. She and Richard had divorced in December. The home, which records still list the two as owning, has been in the process of foreclosure since 2010. Jennifer worried about her kids’ safety but needed the money, said a friend who didn’t want to be identified. There are other signs that she was struggling financially.
This is definitely one of those very tough cases in which people who knew her could very well be beating themselves up for not intervening somehow ... It's absolutely devastating to think that these two teens -- who neighbors described as amazing kids -- are gone. But I wouldn't be so quick to judge or blame anyone. After all, this tragedy may have all been the terribly horrible result of untreated mental illness. Only time and further investigation will tell.
Have you ever felt that someone was "off," as Jennifer Berman's neighbor described? What did you do?
Please call 1-800-273-8255 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in case you are worried about yourself or someone else.