A Texas woman shot-and-killed her husband and their two young sons in a gruesome murder/suicide at a resort hotel. Police in Galveston were called to the San Luis Hotel at around 4:30 a.m. on January 8 after a guest reporting hearing “pops” coming another room, authorities told the media. Police got to the room, on the eighth floor, to find it had been dead bolted from the inside. When officers finally got inside, they made the horrific discovery. The body of Flor de Maria Pineda, 37, was found dead on the floor of the room. Also found dead were Pineda’s husband, Mauricio Morales, 39, and their sons, Mauricio Junior, 10 and David, 5. Pineda was first named as the killer by KHOU’s Adam Bennett.
In a statement, the Galveston Police Department said, “The motive is unknown at this time, but forensic data collected at the scene indicates that the female is believed to be the shooter at this time, and is believed to have killed her two children and her husband before apparently taking her own life with a 9mm handgun found adjacent to her body.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Family Checked Into the San Luis Hotel the Night Before the Shooting
The family checked into the San Luis Hotel at around 7 p.m. on January 7, reports KHOU. In a statement, Paul Schultz, the vice president of Landry’s Inc, said:
Our thoughts are with the victims and their family members during this difficult time. We are still gathering information about this isolated incident, however it appears to have been a murder suicide amongst a family in their room.
We are fully cooperating with the Police Department during their investigation and will assist them in any way we can. Since this is under investigation by the Galveston Police Department, please contact 409-765-3702 for specific details surrounding the matter.
Police were adamant from early in the investigation that there was no further threat at the hotel. KHOU reports that Pineda and her 10-year-old son were still alive when police entered the room. Both were later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. A police source told the Houston Chronicle that officers got to the room and heard “faint moaning coming from inside.”
2. Pineda Would Often Give Her Neighbors Boxes of Candy With Bible Verses Attached
A neighbor of the family, Shirley Davis, told KHOU that Pineda would sometimes give her neighbors boxes of candy with bible verses attached. Davis said, “She was very friendly. She waved at us. Her husband was very friendly. And Daniel and Mauricio they would ride their little bicycles, little tricycles on my driveway and if they saw me outside they would get off those bikes and come hug me. (It) meant more than a lot just to see the little young people so in love with you.” Pineda’s Facebook page is littered with biblical references.
3. The Couple’s Sons Attended the Same Elementary School in Baytown
The hotel in Galveston is located around 50 miles south east of downtown Houston. The family lived in Baytown, Texas, which is just outside of Houston. Pineda’s sons attended Victoria Walker Elementary School in the Goose Creek Independent school district. Mauricio Junior was in the fifth grade, David was in kindergarten.
A school spokeswoman, Beth Dombrowa, said via the Houston Chronicle, “The tragic circumstances surrounding these students’ deaths are almost too much to bear. A student death can have a ripple effect on a school community and, because of this and out of concern for the students’ classmates and the campus faculty, we will have additional counseling services at the school. We are grieving for the loss of young life and its infinite possibilities and we pray for the family, friends and students most affected by this tragedy.”
4. Cases of Mothers Murdering Their Children Is ‘Not as Uncommon as People Might Believe’
Psychologists believe that cases of mothers murdering their children as part of murder/suicides is “not as uncommon as people might believe,” reports CBS News. The article highlights the case of Andrea Yates of Houston who was found not guilty due to insanity in the drowning deaths of her five children in 2001.
According to the Violence Policy Institute, there are 624 murder-suicide events in the United States every year. Those numbers indicate that murders are associated with suicide in 0.06 percent of cases.
5. This Is the Second Shooting Death at the San Luis Resort in 12 Months
This is the second time in 12 months that the San Luis hotel was rocked by a shooting. In April 2017, a 23-year-old security guard named Phillip Molis was shot after he confronted a group of men who were breaking into cars. Molis died a week later in a nearby hospital. The men, police believe, were all members of the Gorilla Mob 187 gang. ABC Houston reports that in October 2017, Brandon Lefford, 19, of Missouri City was arrested and charged with the murder. He was indicted in December 2017.