Monday, August 16, 2010

A Texas Town Honors a Killer

by Susan Murphy Milano

On July 15, 2010, the town of Coppell, Texas, flew the flags at half-staff in honor of their beloved, late Mayor Jayne Peters.

But how the hell can you honor anyone who shoots down their own child in cold blood and then commits suicide? The disturbing response of the mayor pro tem summed it up, saying the tony Dallas suburb needed to separate what Peters did in her personal life from how she performed as mayor.

So I ask: Why honor anyone who, in great detail, plans and carries out murder? As an elected official, Jayne Peters was a hard-core politician. Some people refer to politicians as empty suits. What lurked inside Jayne Peters's suit was rage, a rage most violent offenders hide from the outside world. Peters masked her controlling and manipulative ways behind a pretty smile, makeup, heels and stockings. She made sure she had all the answers when it came to city government.

But what no one has dared to say aloud since the murder-suicide is they are willing to forgive her crime because she was a woman and, at one time, a respected member of the community.

The side of an abuser that outsiders never see is saved for immediate family, behind closed doors. In news coverage, the murder-suicide was the tragic story of a recently widowed wife whose husband died of cancer in 2008, leaving her to raise a teenager on her own while struggling with personal finances. Peters, who'd hidden the family money problems from her daughter, faced an investigation into $4,000 of unexplained personal charges on her city credit card.

Police went to Peters's house when she failed to show up at the monthly city council meeting. Taped to the door was an envelope containing a key to the upscale house and a note that said: "God, please forgive me."

They found Corinne Peters, 19, in a laundry room, dead from a single gunshot wound to the back of her head, which her mother apparently had wrapped in towels. Upstairs, taped to a closed bathroom door, was a note that said: "Please do not resuscitate.” They found Jayne Peters's body on the tile floor with a single gunshot wound to her forehead.

According to Fox News, police found four notesin all. In one, Peters wrote: "We were lost,” which likely translates into an excuse: 'I could no longer control my environment at work or in my home.' The note also said Peters and her daughter remained inconsolable over the death of Donald Peters.

The last note? Peters left detailed instructions for the care of the family's dogs.

The relationship between mother and daughter was always filled with turmoil. They argued about everything from boys to after-school activities to Corrine being a daddy’s girl. Some of Corrine's friends remember her describing the abuse, anger and jealousy that blew out of control after the death of her father. Donald Peters had always shielded his baby girl from her mother’s temper. 

Corinne was a bright, vibrant young woman who, according to friends, always greeted people with a bright smile.

Corinne graduated high school on June 4 and planned to attend the University of Texas in the fall. This teenager, by all accounts, was happy and looking forward to her future. But the abuser -- her mother -- was not going to allow her daughter to live her life. Jayne Peters never intended for her daughter to enroll in college. Instead, she carefully planned to take her life.

Corinne Peters was murdered. As an abuser and a murderer, Jayne Peters likely decided that killing her daughter and making excuses for her own financial disaster was the best way to solve her problems. What abusers do best, male or female, is make life-altering decisions for other members of their immediate family.

And in the wake of this tragedy, what the town of Coppell, Texas, did was show the world that family-member homicide is acceptable. They looked the other way, hid in their homes and acted as if they'd lost a beloved member of their community. It makes me wonder how many women and children in that town are living in fear for their lives.

This woman should not be remembered as anything other than the "mayor who murdered her daughter in cold blood." And that is why you will only see photos of Corinne Peters in this story. I refuse to honor a murderer.

Corinne Peters must be remembered as a shining bright light who, while on earth, stood up to a darkness few have ever survived.

Rest in peace, young warrior! You earned it!


TigressPen said...

I wholeheartdly agree with all you said here, Susan. And I am pleased the only pictures we see is of Corrine. Mrs. Peters had no right to take away her child's future whether she, herself was financially down, living in self-absorbed agony or not. She is now, to me, nothing more than a selfish murderer and coward.

Anonymous said...

Yes I agree thank you for focusing on the victim. So sick of hearing and seeing criminals.

Story Teller said...

What a sad story. People always say that a mother should want the best for her children, but in mother-daughter dynamics, often the opposite is true. I wish more people would write about the jealousy and competitiveness that often exists between mothers and daughters.

Poor Corinne should have been able to go on and enjoy her bright future. Her mother's actions were unbelievably selfish. Great post!

Anonymous said...

I 100% agree with you. I never, not for one minute, believed that her daughter agreed to this. Every word you wrote in your piece was exactly how I feel when I hear of murder-suicide. My stomach turns when I see her daughter's picture - she looks so much like my goddaughter. I can't imagine losing her and I am sure the family left behind are feeling the same about Corinne. Thank you for calling a spade a spade.

Anonymous said...

For the most part, I agree with you. Even in my line of work, I still struggle to understand why a suicidal individual would want to end another life as well, especially that of someone they purportedly love. I have to wonder if the mother was so severely depressed that she simply could not see any other way out. I offer this not as an excuse for her behavior, but an alternative explanation. Any thoughts?

Anonymous said...

My thought is that she was a narcissistic wench who wanted to control everything up to its ultimate ending. She killed her daughter to avoid having the girl be ashamed of her for what she had done. (embezzlement to name a few things.) It was her own sick way of trying to control how others think of her as well, the equivalent of a pity trip that she took to the grave. I would have MORE pity had she simply killed herself and not the kid. But for what she did i personally hope theres a hell because im sure shes singing a pity me song there.

Anonymous said...

If you have ever been suicidal, you know life is not so simple. I suspect the mother was profoundly mentally ill. This is not to say what she did is right. This is to say we ignore mental health issues or are ashamed to own up to them, especially in Texas. Texas ranks 48th or 49th in mental health services.
I have been suicidal and there is no logic to it, just a profound sense of isolation and a total loss of hope. I have been hospitalized and been in therapy. I no longer want to kill myself, but I still regret that I did not succeed.

Leah said...

I think she was a narcissist as well. The murders were totally calculated, she lied in the notes she left and she was more concerned for her dogs than she was for her daughter. For hell's sake, Corinne and/or her mother could have gotten loans to get her through college, but her mother didn't even consider that. I don't see depression here, I see she was about to be exposed and she took the coward's way out and then she blamed it all on her deceased husband.

Anonymous said...

Agreed Leah, and while I respect the views posted by anonymous number one, I would be curious to know if his or her suicidal thoughts extended to killing a family member or someone else as well?

TO feel life is hopeless and want to kill yourself over it is one thing,most of those types go off by themselves and do it, and sometimes leave a note. They don't usually meticulously plan out a murder suicide and take an innocent family member along if the only thing they suffer is depression. ( unless the person had delusional religious convictions and wished to take that family member with them, or the individual was terminally ill and it was mercy-killing.)

She pitied only herself and wanted to control things up to the last moment.

Leah said...

I agree Ananymous. I was suicidal a time or two and my son is what saved me. He is 24 now and a college grad, and I still choose to live for him. Even though he'd be fine without me now, I cannot imagine how sad he would be knowing that I didn't think I have anything to live for. Truly depressed and sad people don't want to take anyone with them. In fact we really don't want to die al all. We just want the fear, agony and pain to go away.

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