A Michigan mother and wife out of Keego Harbor shot and killed her husband and two adult children before turning the gun on herself. Lauren Stuart, 45, also shot and killed the family dog during this horrific turn of events. Some locals and friends of the family believe their shunning from the Jehovah’s Witnesses was a major reason behind the crime.
The double murder-suicide ended the lives of Daniel Stuart, 47; Bethany Stuart, 24; and Steven Stuart, 27, according to MLive.
On Friday, the bodies of all four family members were found in their home after an extended family member called police in a panic. When police arrived to do a welfare check on Friday morning, they also found the family dog deceased in one of the home’s bathtubs.
According to the Detroit Free Press, friends of the family are attributing to her connection with the Jehovah’s Witnesses to the brutal murders. The news outlet is also reporting that Lauren grew up as a Jehovah’s Witness and left the religion around five years ago and subsequently became shunned.
Lauren’s husband also grew up in the controversial religion, but the couple chose to leave after they decided to send their children to college, which the religion discourages; NPR reports “The view that higher education is spiritually dangerous is very common among Witnesses.” After leaving the Union Lake Kingdom Hall where they were members, Lauren and her family became ostracized from all those still in the religion.
Family friend Joyce Taylor claimed Lauren’s friends would no longer look her in the eye and pretended they didn’t know her if they ever crossed paths. Joyce believes the shunning ultimately contributed to her decision to kill her husband, two children, and dog.
Joyce met with Lauren a week before the murders and claimed nothing seemed too odd. She felt Lauren was dealing with a personal issue, which she didn’t disclose, and believes that issue, combined with the shunning from her religion, pushed her over the edge. Joyce said Lauren was often upset because she was being ostracized from the religion, so this particular meeting didn’t feel different from any other time.
After leaving the religion several years ago, Lauren turned to modeling to make a new life for herself and her family. Her Facebook profile was flooded with modeling photos, and things seemed to be looking up. Lauren’s personal modeling website is still active online.
The Union Lake Kingdom Hall has not commented on the murder-suicides despite being reached out to for comment.