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St. Louis mother killed baby and husband, then herself

Posted by on Feb. 7, 2018 at 4:07 PM
  • 70 Replies

St. Louis mother killed baby and husband, then herself, police believe. Experts point to possible postpartum psychosis.


ST. LOUIS • Investigators believe the mother of a 3-month-old girl was the shooter in a double-murder-suicide that left her, her husband and their infant daughter dead last week, a police source said.

The three were officially identified by police Monday as Mary Jo Trokey, 32, Matthew Trokey, 33, and their daughter Taylor Rose Trokey. A spokeswoman for the department declined to release further information in the ongoing investigation.

But a police source said Mary Jo Trokey is believed to have been the shooter. Investigators are tracking her purchase of a gun in the days before the shooting that occurred late Thursday or early Friday. They are investigating mental illness as a possible factor, the source said.

Experts on mental illness in new mothers say it’s possible postpartum psychosis may have played a role in the deaths.

Postpartum psychosis is a rare disorder marked by delusional and irrational behavior that is triggered by pregnancy and childbirth.

Most women with postpartum psychosis do not harm themselves or others. Those who do kill their children are betrayed by their own maternal instinct, which becomes twisted to believe death is the only way to protect them, said St. Louis psychologist Diane Sanford, who specializes in postpartum mood disorders.

Up to 85 percent of new mothers experience mood swings, sadness and anxiety in the first days or weeks after childbirth. For 15 percent to 20 percent of women, the typical “baby blues” do not resolve within a few weeks and can progress to debilitating anxiety and depression at any point in the first year.

“Usually the first indication that it’s anxiety is when she’s distraught by it … she recognizes this is not typical or healthy,” said Erin Poniewaz, a mother-baby intensive outpatient program therapist at Mercy Hospital in Creve Coeur.

But a woman with postpartum psychosis, experienced by up to 1 in 1,000 new mothers, does not realize she is in trouble and acting irrationally, Poniewaz said. She may hear voices or have other hallucinations or paranoid delusions.

The sleep deprivation experienced in the newborn phase can contribute to the break from reality.

“When you’re not sleeping, your mind plays tricks on you, and you can lose your footing really quickly,” Poniewaz said.

While most women with postpartum psychosis do not become violent, some can feel like they don’t deserve their children, or that their children would be better off without them. The mother may also feel that if she can’t be with the baby, no one else can.

'It's inexplicable'

The Trokey family’s pastor told the Post-Dispatch on Saturday that he had seen no sign of trouble.

The Trokeys had been attending St. Raphael the Archangel Catholic Church in their St. Louis Hills neighborhood for about two years, said the Rev. Bob Reiker. A church newsletter in December congratulated the couple on the Dec. 17 baptism of their daughter.


A portion of the St. Raphael Catholic Church bulletin from Christmas weekend 2017 announces the baptism of Taylor Rose Trokey. on Feb. 2, 2018, the 3-month-old girl and her parents, Mary Jo Trokey and Matthew Trokey, were all found dead in their St. Louis home in an apparent double murder-suicide.

Reiker said he performed the baptism. Reiker described the couple as 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. “People are baffled by it. It’s inexplicable how someone could do this to themselves, let alone their little girl.”

St. Louis has seen several high-profile cases of mothers killing their children. Paula Sims of Alton is serving life without parole in the Logan Correctional Center near Lincoln, Ill., after admitting to killing her two newborn daughters three years apart in the 1980s. Sims blames postpartum psychosis for putting demons in her head.

In 2012, three mothers from the St. Louis area killed their children and themselves. Christine Adewunmi of west St. Louis County drove her three daughters Lauren, 8, Samantha, 6, and Kate, 3, to a remote spot near Bourbon, Mo., in March 2012 and shot the children and herself with a handgun.

That July, Catherine Murch, 42, shot and killed her children, Mitchell III, 10, and Mary Claire, 8, and herself while her husband was in another part of their Glendale home. Then in September, Lisa Cochran, 32, of De Soto, shot and killed her three daughters — Alyssa Cochran, 11, Autumn Cochran, 10, and Faith Ehlen, 22 months — and herself outside their home.

Postpartum depression and psychosis are treatable with medication, peer support and therapy. Most cases of postpartum psychosis require a period of hospitalization.

There is no standard timeline for screening women for postpartum depression. New mothers typically see their obstetrician/gynecologist once, six weeks after giving birth. Some pediatricians have started asking moms about depression and anxiety, because parents and babies typically visit them more frequently throughout the first year.

“One thing we know for sure is that being quiet about it and not reaching out makes the healing process take a whole lot longer,” said Kim Martino-Sexton, a postpartum resource coordinator at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital.

Intervention is crucial for new mothers to overcome such struggles, experts said.

“This is a critical opportunity to have these difficult conversations and get women the help they need,” Poniewaz said. “They’re not alone, they’re not to blame, and they will get well.”

Joel Currier of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

by on Feb. 7, 2018 at 4:07 PM
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Replies (1-10):
billsfan1104
by Emerald Member on Feb. 7, 2018 at 4:07 PM
1 mom liked this
That’s so sad. So terrible.
nb34
by Platinum Member on Feb. 7, 2018 at 4:09 PM
2 moms liked this

Yes it is. My heart breaks for them all. It's important to check on new mothers, and not assume everything is fine.

Quoting billsfan1104: That’s so sad. So terrible.


Bookwormy
by Ruby Member on Feb. 7, 2018 at 4:50 PM
3 moms liked this
This level of disturbance is rare, but does occur. However, post partum mood disorders are quite common and often start during pregnancy.
GrayDuck41
by Linda on Feb. 7, 2018 at 4:54 PM
I’m pretty sure there were signs. PPD is dangerous. It’s like temporary insanity in some cases.
They should not have had a gun in the home.
Here’s another example of people ignoring obvious signs spelling disaster and guns.
Jambo4
by Silver Member on Feb. 7, 2018 at 5:08 PM
2 moms liked this

How sad.

simple frown

nb34
by Platinum Member on Feb. 7, 2018 at 5:09 PM

She bought the gun a few days before this incident.

Quoting GrayDuck41: I’m pretty sure there were signs. PPD is dangerous. It’s like temporary insanity in some cases. They should not have had a gun in the home. Here’s another example of people ignoring obvious signs spelling disaster and guns.


Hottmomma607
by NOLA T. on Feb. 7, 2018 at 5:12 PM
Just awful. 😢
billsfan1104
by Emerald Member on Feb. 7, 2018 at 5:13 PM
5 moms liked this
They ignored the signs with Andrea Yates. Totally ignored them and she drowned her kids.
Many mothers that have killed their kids don’t do it by guns. Are we gonna ban bathtubs now?


Quoting GrayDuck41: I’m pretty sure there were signs. PPD is dangerous. It’s like temporary insanity in some cases.
They should not have had a gun in the home.
Here’s another example of people ignoring obvious signs spelling disaster and guns.
Jambo4
by Silver Member on Feb. 7, 2018 at 5:13 PM
1 mom liked this

And what were those "obvious signs"?  You know the Trokey family personally, because I didn't see where it said anything on the mental health of this woman.  This is what I read.  Maybe you have some special divination skills? 

'It's inexplicable'

The Trokey family’s pastor told the Post-Dispatch on Saturday that he had seen no sign of trouble.

“It’s hard to imagine what happened,” Reiker said. “People are baffled by it. It’s inexplicable how someone could do this to themselves, let alone their little girl.”


Quoting GrayDuck41: I’m pretty sure there were signs. PPD is dangerous. It’s like temporary insanity in some cases. They should not have had a gun in the home. Here’s another example of people ignoring obvious signs spelling disaster and guns.


nb34
by Platinum Member on Feb. 7, 2018 at 5:14 PM
3 moms liked this

I think doctors, nurses, pastors, family members, etc. have to pay more attention to women after birth. Women these days don't have a community and support system that can help them through this. More and more people are alone and vulnerable. I know people who have known this woman for years, and they are all in shock.

Quoting Bookwormy: This level of disturbance is rare, but does occur. However, post partum mood disorders are quite common and often start during pregnancy.


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