Mary Jo Trokey, a Missouri mother and accomplished social worker, is believed to have done the unthinkable: Shot her husband and infant daughter to death before taking her own life, according to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The infant girl, Taylor Rose, was only three months old. Mary Jo Trokey was 32, and her husband Matthew Trokey, was 33. The newspaper attributed the contention that Mary Jo was the shooter to a police source; officially authorities have not released many details about the tragedy, although they have said they are investigating it as a murder suicide.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Police Are Investigating Postpartum Psychosis as a Possible Factor, Reports Say
According to the St. Louis Dispatch, police are “investigating mental illness as a possible factor.” The newspaper noted that “experts on mental illness in new mothers say it’s possible postpartum psychosis may have played a role in the deaths,” although that has not officially been determined in the Trokey case. Fox 2 Now reported that “investigators are looking into whether postpartum depression” played a role. However, postpartum psychosis is “a different disorder and is very rare,” The American Psychological Association reports.
Portpartum psychosis “is a rare illness, compared to the rates of postpartum depression or anxiety. It occurs in approximately 1 to 2 out of every 1,000 deliveries, or approximately .1 -.2% of births,” according to Postpartum.net. The site notes that “Most women who experience postpartum psychosis do not harm themselves or anyone else,” although “research has suggested that there is approximately a 5% suicide rate and a 4% infanticide rate associated with the illness.” According to Time Magazine, “In rare cases, postpartum psychosis can lead to suicide attempts. Even rarer are attempts at infanticide.”
Womensmentalhealth.org notes, “Women with this disorder exhibit a rapidly shifting depressed or elated mood, disorientation or confusion, and erratic or disorganized behavior. Delusional beliefs are common and often center on the infant. Auditory hallucinations that instruct the mother to harm herself or her infant may also occur.”
In contrast to postpartum psychosis, postpartum depression is more common and “1 in 7 women experience symptoms of postpartum depression,” reports The American Psychological Association. Both are treatable, Time reports.
Most women with postpartum depression do not cause themselves or others harm. According to Womensmentalhealth.org, “During the postpartum period, about 85% of women experience some type of mood disturbance. For most the symptoms are mild and short-lived.”
2. Matthew Was an Avid Donor to the Red Cross & The Couple’s Marriage Was Announced in 2013
A wedding announcement for the couple – the former Mary Jo Ryan and Matthew Trokey – was posted in 2013. The announcement said of the couple, “Ryan is a graduate of the University of Missouri where she earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in social work. Her fiance, Trokey, is a graduate of the University of Missouri, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology with a minor in business.” The wedding was planned for January 2014.
The family obituary on Legacy.com makes no mention of the tragedy and mourns the three family members together. “In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the American Red Cross. Matt was an avid donor and supporter,” the obituary notes.
The obituary continues: “Trokey, Matthew, Mary Jo and Taylor Rose Matthew, his beloved daughter Taylor Rose and wife Mary Jo (nee Ryan) began their eternal life together with God on Friday, February 2nd, 2018.”
3. Mary Jo Worked as a Social Worker & Volunteered to Help the Poor
A LinkedIn page for Mary Jo Trokey says that she worked as a social worker in the greater St. Louis area and describes a long list of accomplishments.
“Social Worker with a commitment to meeting the needs of older adults and their caregivers. Skilled in assessing psychosocial issues and formulating care plans,” the page reads. “Well-versed in a variety of treatment modalities and clinical interventions. Passionate team player with proven record of leadership and innovation. Backed by solid credentials (MSW, LCSW, CCM, C-ASWCM) and strengths in counseling and case management.”
According to the LinkedIn page, she also had worked as a patient resource manager, as a program coordinator for the United Nations, as a graduate assistant in college, and as a medical social worker. At the University of Missouri, she also had a “minor in human development and family studies and minor in leadership and public service,” the LinkedIn page says.
It adds that Mary Jo Trokey was also a volunteer at the Society of Saint Vincent DePaul in the area of “poverty alleviation” and she was involved in a group of healthcare leaders in St. Louis.
4. Taylor Rose Was Baptized Just Weeks Ago & No One Noticed Anything Amiss
The Trokeys attended a local Catholic church, and they had just had Taylor Rose baptized only six weeks ago.
Rev. Bob Reiker officiated at the baptism and told the Post-Dispatch that the couple was “friendly and said they regularly attended Sunday Mass; he said Mary Jo Trokey was active in the St. Vincent de Paul Society.”
“It’s hard to imagine what happened,” Reiker said to the newspaper. “People are baffled by it. It’s inexplicable how someone could do this to themselves, let alone their little girl.”
5. The Family Dog Suffered a Graze Wound During the Carnage & Mary Jo May Have Recently Bought a Gun
Only the family dog survived the carnage, but even the animal had a graze wound, according to Fox 2 Now. “Mrs. Trokey recently bought a gun. There was no known motive for the shootings,” reported the television station.
“A family member tells News 4 that the wife purchased the gun on Thursday and the gun was found in her hand when officers arrived on scene. The couple and their infant daughter were found dead inside their St. Louis Hills home on the 6200 block of Kinsey Place Friday around 4pm,” wrote Eric Cox, of KMOV-TV, on Facebook.
Each of the victims was shot. The bodies were discovered on the afternoon of Friday, February 2, but it is believed that the slayings occurred overnight, KPLR11.com reported.
This article was updated to include more information on the differences between postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis.