The troubles of the Stewart-Sampels family came into sharper focus today as more details of this double-homicide-suicide incident have been revealed by police.
Today, regional media is reporting that the Washington State Patrol has determined that David Stewart, 38, who had shot himself as troopers approached his stopped vehicle on I-5, had also shot his wife Kristy Sampels moments before they confronted him. Ms. Sampels died in an ambulance shortly after being rescued from Stewart’s vehicle.
In addition, The News Tribune is reporting that the couple’s five year-old son, Jordan, died of asphyxiation, and had been dead for at least 24 hours before police discovered him in his bedroom at the family home on 178th St Ct E in Spanaway. Police arrived at the Stewart’s residence Tuesday, several hours after the shooting on I-5.
KOMO TV is reporting that authorities have announced the boy’s body was found with bruises and a plastic bag over its head, and believe that he may have been abused.
Further, Krista Carlson, Director of Communications for the Bethel School District, said that Jordan had been enrolled in the nearby Camas Prairie Elementary School kindergarten class last September, and “was in the system for three or four days, but did not attend any classes and had been withdrawn.”
Carlson said that the couple’s daughter, age 10, who has been found safe at her biological father’s home in Oregon, has never been a student in the BSD.
Neighbors confirmed that they held a candlelight vigial at the Stewart-Sampels’ home last evening, even though, apparently, no one knew them well.
“They sure were quiet,” one neighbor told The Mountain News, today. “They just kept to themselves.”
Nevetheless, the neighbors left flowers and momentos, and even though their memories may be few, their notes clearly state the Stewart-Sampels family will not be forgotten.
This is tragic! Bad enough to want to kill yourself. Why take others with you? Sad.
In this time, when it is politically incorrect to mention God in the public places and fewer and fewer of our citizens have faith in their creator, when the unborn and the born are not considered valuable, we see more and more dysfunctional families and we hear more and more about parents murdering their children. Is this a wake up call for those of us who could’ve been better neighbors, mentors, and friends???? It is such a sad situation.
Your comments Claudia have got me thinking that perhaps The Mountain News needs to do a story exploring the dynamics of what leads a family to such a violent path. The KOMO – TV film crew at the Stewart-Sampels’ home told me that the police had told them that over half of the recent DV murder-suicides in the county had been initiated by active-duty or retired military.
In addition, KOMO released information in its broadcast Wednesday that indicated Mr. Stewart was suffering from PTSD after his two tours in Iraq and had been receiving treatment as of last August.
Along those lines, Gen Odierno, commander in Iraq, stated in an interview recently that something like 30% of his troops experience emotional problems due to their experiences in war, and he characterized these impacts as “silent” wounds.
So, what to do? Prayers and comments such as yours to get the discussion rolling are certainly excellent places to begin. More concretely, perhaps the military should require all returning soldiers who are experiencing PTSD to put their personal weapons in a safe place outside of the home, such as a locked depository on base.
After working in a VA psych hospital during the Vietnam War, I know full well that the effects of war are tough to resolve and can take an enormous amount of time to do so.
From all accounts that I’ve heard, The Stewart-Sampels rebuffed most customary social interactions with their neighbors, and most troubling to me is that young Jordan was pulled out of kindergarten last September, thus depriving him of an important place of social contact and a possible refuge from whatever tensions existed at home.
I sense the causes of DV are many and the solutions just as varied. If you and others would like to start a public discussion on how and why and what to do, I will certainly join you. The six deaths this week are beyond tragic.
Domestic violence is so difficult to understand, let alone try to describe to someone in a short amount of time. The military personnel returning from war have an even harder time returning to a civilian way of life. They are taught to kill and then have to come back and de-program themselves. It is a difficult and often unsuccessful way of life. Violence can become a way of life and anything can spark the violence, from a look to the kids being noisy. There is nothing rational about it. It is like no other criminal behavior and yet no one seems to want to talk about it. There is an average of three women who are killed everyday due to domestic violence, yet no one ever hears that statistic. This does not mean that men are not victims of domestic violence, because they are. It just means that women are more likely the victims. It would be wonderful if the news media would do a follow up story on the real crime of domestic violence and get the facts straight. Domestic violence victims are often secluded from friends, family and neighbors, so their victimization is not known. This makes it more difficult to discover, however neighbors see and hear things that make them wonder what is going on. This is when the neighbors need to pick up the phone and call the police. It could very well save their neighbors life. You can even call anonymously if you are fearful of retaliation. What a great way to help someone who feels they can not help themselves.