Lauren Stuart, a married mother who worked as a model, is accused of murdering her husband and two adult children before killing herself in Keego Harbor, Michigan.
According to The Detroit Free Press, Stuart was shunned after leaving the Jehovah’s Witnesses sect, and some friends told the newspaper that the banishment may have triggered the 45-year-old woman to murder her entire family and take her own life.
Lauren Stuart, 45, was married to university employee Daniel Stuart, 47, and the couple had two adult children who also were killed: Steven, 27, and Bethany, 24.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Police Responded to a Welfare Check & Discovered the Four Bodies
On Friday, February 16 at 8:10 a.m., officers responded to a welfare check at the family’s Michigan home. Officers were met by a relative “who had concern for the residents,” police said in a news conference.
Officers found four deceased victims inside the home in what appears to be a “family situation murder suicide,” according to police. The perpetrator has been accounted for, authorities say. They believe that Lauren shot and killed the family members and then herself.
In a later statement, Keego Harbor police revealed: “The investigation at the scene and subsequent autopsy … indicate that Lauren Stuart shot and killed her family members before turning the gun on herself.”
2. Friends Believe Stuart Couldn’t Handle Being Shunned by the Religious Group
According to The Detroit Free Press, Lauren Stuart and her husband “left the religion more than five years ago because of ‘doctrinal and social issues,'” a friend reported.
The newspaper reported that when “someone leaves the religion, a drastic shunning takes place: No one inside the religion, even parents, are allowed to speak to the departed again.” Friends told the newspaper that they believe the shunning contributed to Lauren Stuart’s actions.
A woman also made those claims in a video that circulated after the murders. You can watch it above. In it, she says, “You turned them away, you shunned them. Why? Because they wanted to raise their children as they saw fit.”
Fox2 says a woman named Joyce Taylor had an “outburst during Sunday services at the Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall in Union Lake” that “was caught on camera.”
“They were the nicest people, they would give their shirt off their back,” she said to the television station, adding that she blamed religion for the deaths. Taylor said that Lauren Stuart had confided in her that she was pained by what happened when the family left it.
3. The Couple’s Children Were Excelling in College & Lauren Murdered the Family Dog too
Both of the Stuart children were in college, with Steven doing well in computers and Bethany focusing on art and graphic design, according to the Free Press. The LinkedIn page for Bethany says she worked as a graphic designer in college and had a GPA of 3.8. “I am a hard working individual that loves art and wants to progress in a related career,” she wrote.
On her website, Bethany wrote, “I’m an artist just emerging from college with an Associates Degree in Graphic Design. I love to draw most of all, but have become fond in other medias of graphic design, being able to use my art in my works I do. I’ve always loved art, usually doing my own little art projects when not doing work. I’m always trying to learn new techniques to improve my skills, watching better artists at work. My goal is to be able to make a living off of what I love doing- art.”
According to WXYZ, Lauren Stuart also murdered the family’s dog in a bathtub and left a suicide note describing being ashamed, although the other details were not released.
Lauren’s LinkedIn page says she was working as a personal trainer for a Detroit-area YMCA.
4. Lauren Worked as a Model & Wrote That She Wanted to Die ‘Knowing I Did the Things I Wanted to Do’
Lauren Stuart had a modeling profile online. “I love acting and modeling,” she wrote on it. “I am a very passionate person and it reflects in my work. I am adventurous in nature and so I like a wide variety of acting and modeling experiences. I enjoy learning new things especially with good direction. Sharing relative ideas new and old intrigues me. Life is an adventure and my goal is to die knowing I did the things I wanted to do.”
A photographer wrote in a recommendation on Lauren’s LinkedIn page, “Lauren is very personable and easy to work with. I can see where she would excel as a personal trainer as well as what I witnessed having her model for me. Lauren is very easy going and kind.”
5. Daniel Stuart Worked for the University of Michigan
Daniel Stuart was a University of Michigan employee. According to MLive, Daniel worked as “a data solutions architect for the University of Michigan’s Center for Integrative Research in Critical Care.”
The news site reported that Stuart had held his position for two years and quoted his boss, Dr. Kevin Ward, as saying, “Dan was an extraordinarily talented individual and highly valued team member who was making very important contributions.”
“Despite his immense talent, he was very humble and was always excited that his contributions may one day help save lives. He will be sorely missed.”