Michael Birnkrant, a studio driver in Santa Clarita, California, is accused of murdering his wife and two children before turning the gun on himself.
Amy, Michael, Drew and Sean Birnkrant were dead by the time the carnage was over. Officials said the slayings were a murder suicide and Michael Birnkrant the assailant. Amy was 47, Michael was 51, Drew was in her 20s, and Sean was only 11.
Now people who knew the Birnkrants are left to wonder what could possible possess a father to turn such rage onto his entire family.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Bodies Were Scattered Throughout the Home
Horrifically, it appears the killer went from room to room to murder his family members. That’s because authorities say the bodies were found throughout the family’s home, not in one place. The murders were discovered in Santa Clarita at the family’s home on the morning of January 5, 2018.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Rodney Moore told KTLA-TV that it “appears to be a murder-suicide in which the husband shot and killed three individuals and then turned the gun on himself.”
Michael shot all of the family members in the chest, reported KTLA, which added that the bodies were found because a friend of Amy Birnkrant grew concerned after not hearing from her for several days. “The bodies were discovered just before 7 a.m. in the 28800 block of Startree Lane in a home day care center that was not conducting normal activities due to the holidays, reported ABC7.
2. Amy Birnkrant Was a Former Teacher Who Ran a Daycare
According to KHTS, the mother, Amy Birnkrant, ran a daycare out of the family’s home although it was not open when the murders occurred. “Amy Birnkrant was the owner of “Birnkrant Family Daycare Home,” a home-based preschool, and had previously taught at Mountainview Elementary,” the station reported.
A neighbor told ABC7 that Amy Birnkrant “operated the day care, called ‘Amy’s Corner,’ out of her home a couple of days a week,” adding, “Residents said many children in the neighborhood began their education at Birnkrant’s at-home school, where she would teach 12 students at a time.”
Photos on social media show Amy Birnkrant running in track and field events. Neighbor Sandy Barajas praised the daycare, telling ABC 7, “The kids were cared for amazingly. Laughing and singing. They had graduations. It was a beautiful preschool.”
3. Drew Birnkrant Was a Popular Track Athlete
“Drew Birnkrant, the eldest daughter, 20, was a former track athlete and was a student at College of the Canyons this past Fall semester. Sean Birnkrant, the Birnkrant’s son, was in his pre-teens,” KHTS reported.
On Instagram, Drew posted an emotional revelation about her struggles in life. She wrote:
So I wanted to share something kinda different and kinda personal. I’m not posting this for attention, nor sympathy, or anything of the sort. This is the first time I have ever gone public about my Trichotillomania. For those who don’t know, Trichotillomania is an obsessive compulsive disorder where one pulls their own hair out. For some that could be the hair on your head, eyelashes, eyebrows, etc. For me, I pull on the top of my head. Yes I know a lot of you are thinking “wtf? Why not just stop pulling?” to some extent (but not to an extreme) it’s like telling an alcoholic “why not just stop drinking?” I’ve always had thin hair, and have always worn extensions because I was insecure about it. However, once the disorder started, that (thinness) didn’t necessarily matter anymore- because now I had huge bald spots to be concerned about. The first 2 pictures are of me with my new wig that just came in the mail, and the third is of my real hair, rather what’s left of it. I never ever imagined it would get so bad to the point that I pulled so much that I needed a wig to bring back my self confidence and to feel beautiful again. However, it is what it is at the moment, and as stupid as it sounds, I cried when I first put on the wig, because it was truly bittersweet. It’s been so long since I’ve been able to run my fingers through my hair or push back bangs out of my face- all that good stuff. Like I said in the beginning, this post isn’t for attention or sympathetic purposes. Girls post selfies all the time when they feel like they’re slaying one day or feel good about themselves — well, this is one of those days for me. This is the first time in a long time that I have had genuine self confidence and have felt beautiful, and I wanted to share (and perhaps even spread awareness). This one of many steps in my journey to not even be “pull-free,” but to do my absolute best to get relatively close (as for most cases, most people don’t ever become pull-free). Anywho— may get some hate here, but I could f*cking care less, because I’m slaying af today ???
Most of her photos are typical of a young person her age and show her running track, taking selfies, and hanging out with friends. On Facebook, she wrote that she was a Pole Vaulter “at college of the canyons track and field,” who “Studies Sports Medicine/Athletic Training at College of the Canyons,” went to Valencia High School and was from and lived in Santa Clarita, California. Drew is the only member of the family with active social media accounts. Neighbors told ABC 7 that Drew was popular with many friends.
4. Michael Was a Driver for Movie Studios Whose Daughter Once Praised Him For His ‘Constant Support’
Michael Birnkrant’s occupation was as a driver for Hollywood movie studios.
According to The New York Daily News, “He worked as a movie set driver for top Hollywood directors including Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams on major productions, including ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ and ‘Star Trek.'”
In 2016, Drew posted a photo of her father and wrote, “happy Father’s Day to the OG. thank you for all that you do for our family and for the constant support you give all of us. also thanks for putting up with me for 18 years I don’t know how ya do it. I love you❤️?”
It wasn’t clear how long the family had been dead in the home, but a murder weapon was found near Michael Birnkrant’s body, police said.
5. The Motive Remains Unclear
What could possibly drive a father to murder his wife and two children? According to KTLA, the motive was still not known but the father was not well-liked by neighbors, who said he kept to himself.
Drew posted the above photo of herself with her brother in 2012 and wrote, “My bro. At least he’s cute.”