CLEARWATER - What kind of parent kills their child?
This is just one the questions left swirling around after detectives in Clearwater said they believe Dawn Brown, 34, killed her two sons and then hung herself.
Zander, 9, and Zayden, 5, were found by their father. Both were dressed in their pajamas and tucked into bed. Both were dead.
ABC Action News spoke with Dr. Valerie McClain, a licensed psychologist and board certified forensic neuropsychologist, to shed light on what motivates parents to kill and what is known about parents who have been found guilty of doing so.
McClain is not involved in any way in the Brown case. Thus, she is not able to provide a legal opinion or give any definitive medical diagnosis.
"In this particular situation, it sounds more like a grief," explained McClain. "You know, a loss issue for the mother and then feeling inadequate and empty.
Family members told ABC Action News that Dawn and her husband Murphy struggled financially this year.
Murphy's dad, Byron Brown, admits his daughter-in-law recently slipped into a deep depression. She faced welfare fraud charges for not notifying the government of her husband's new job as a bus driver for Pinellas County Schools. Dawn faced a pre-trial hearing on October 1.
Then, with the house in foreclosure, the electricity was turned off the day before she made the fatal decision.
"I think that is a huge statement. The amount of nurture and the amount of caring that went into putting the kids in their pajamas, putting them in bed, suggests that a bond is there," she added.
As shocking as tragedies like this can be, they are becoming increasingly common.
The American Anthropological Association reports that more than 200 mothers kill their children each year and maternal filicide is the third leading cause of death in American Children ages 5-14.
Can tragedies like this be prevented?
According to McClain, those closest to someone may notice red flags or actions and feelings that do not feel consistent. However, it is up to family and friends to speak up or for the individual to realize they need help. Still, even though someone needs help, they may not be able to afford it or know where to go to get it.
McClain said people can call 211, a crisis line -- that is if they have access to a phone.
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