A Family

Arthur Penn, 41, was found Saturday morning outside the home in which he used to reside. He was lying on the wheelchair ramp meant for the daughter of the house who was confined to a wheelchair. He had a gunshot wound to his back. In one hand he had a Koozie, in the other hand a sock. Nearby was the matching sock, the earpiece to a cell phone and the faceplate to the radio in his van. Neighbors recalled hearing a gunshot about 7:30 am.

Police pounded on the door of the residence but got no response. They could not enter the home as it was locked. The other residents of the home could not be located. They obtained a search warrant, and then entered the home.

Inside the home, police found Lani Carr, 27, her daughter Jamila, 10, and the couple's son Arthur, 6 all dead from gunshot wounds. Jamila was still hooked up to her respirator.

Police say they had been called to the house before for domestic calls. Reportedly, they believe that Lani Carr first shot Arthur Penn, then went into the home and locked the door, shot the children then herself.

Friends and neighbors of the family have said that the daughter Jamila had Cerebral Palsy. She had one lung and was confined to a wheelchair. Reportedly doctors had told the family that she probably wouldn't live much longer.

Reportedly they also described some problems between the couple. There may have been jealousy and insecurity on Carr's part. Penn may have been seeing other women. Penn had moved to his mother's a few months earlier but some say the couple may still have been seeing each other. Penn was to pick up his son for a Father's Day visit that day.

Allegedly Carr told a relative a few days ago that she couldn't take anymore. Allegedly she may have told friends about purchasing a gun, and made a threat against Penn, but coworkers thought she was joking. In notes found in the home, Carr wrote of a deepening despair over the last month.

http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/metro/stories/MYSA061806.1A.homicidesuicide.139d4ff.html

http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?section=state&id=4281037

http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/metro/stories/MYSA061706.manfounddead.en.95a90a5c.html

Carr is described many ways. Some complimentary, some not. Yet none seemed to dispute her love and care of her children.

One child disabled, possibly terminal. That alone is enough to cause a strong parent to struggle. Yet with an active and growing 6 year old, you would have to try to maintain some semblance of normality in the home. And add to that problems in a relationship, that is a heavy burden too.

She did seem to attempt to reach out, by saying she couldn't do it anymore, by telling about the gun purchase. Yet the very strength described by friends, probably masked the depths she had sunk to. Being strong, and with all she had already gone through, most probably thought she would make it through this also.

A depressed person may make statements about death, they may appear philosophical, or serious, or they may appear to be joking. They may show some signs they are struggling in behavior changes, withdrawal from family and friends or regular activities, giving away belongings reckless behavior or changes in sleeping and eating habits. If you see those signs, get them to a doctor, hospital or counselor right away. The signs may be very subtle. And a depressed person is often incapable of saying- help me.

For more information about suicide, the indicators, signs and symptoms and how to get help, click here and here.

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Last Words

"I just killed my baby," "And now I'm going to kill myself."

According to family, those words were among the last words of Jerlisa Contreras, 24, on Fri. moments before the line went dead.

The family thinks that the calls to various family members were made just after she dropped 15 month old Alyssa Scott over the side of a bridge. Investigators say that an autopsy will be done to determine if little Alyssa had any trauma prior to being dropped off the bridge.

"Fanny" as she was known to her family, appeared to be tearful and anguished on the phone. They say that Fanny was a good and loving mother. And that at one time she was fun and outgoing. She liked to dance and go out on the town once in a while. But that she internalized her problems. They say she appeared troubled and stressed lately. Her relationship with baby Alyssa's father had recently ended. They say she seemed depressed.

Reportedly, last week Jerlisa had found out that Alyssa's father had another woman. Allegedly she confronted the woman Saturday and they came to blows.

The family says that Alyssa was just learning to talk. She had a full head of curly hair and just a few weeks ago her ears were pierced.

Jerlisa Contreras or Fanny had another child. A 6 year old boy. He had had trouble acclimating to the schools there, so Fanny had sent him to stay with her younger sister a month ago.  

According to witnesses, Jerlisa pulled up on the bridge, near it's highest point and parked on the shoulder. She got out of the car, leaned over the railing and dropped Alyssa. She then climbed the railing and jumped. Police say it was a 100 to 200 foot drop.

A fisherman heard the splash and called 911. One rescue boat picked up little Alyssa's body and the other picked up Jerlisa. Alyssa was pronounced dead at the hospital before noon, but Jerlisa is in critical condition. Family says she is brain dead.

This is not the first deaths the family has suffered. They say that two of the Contreras' brothers had died. And last year a cousin died in a plant explosion.

http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/index.ssf?/base/news-7/115051961130370.xml&coll=1

I hurt for this family. They appear to be a close family. They were gathering outside her home, even before they received the news from officials. And this was both the fourth and fifth loss they have suffered.

Jerlisa likely didn't consider what she was leaving behind. One relative said that she had a tendency to dwell on her problems. And likely that was her only consideration before what she did.

She likely didn't think of the grieving family she would be leaving behind, or thought they would get over it. She likely didn't consider the traces of guilt she would also leave, because though they got to talk to her before her death they weren't able to talk her out of it, and they were too far away to physically stop her.

She likely didn't consider the 11 year old little sister who looked up to her, and now will have only memories tinged with the melancholia of the tragic events. The 6 year old son, whose memories of his mother and sister will already be faint at best. Yet he is old enough to remember that he once had a mother and sister, and no longer does.

What always hits me the hardest is what we will never know. We will never know if Alyssa may have grown up to be a woman president, a lawyer, a nurse, a doctor,  a teacher, a mother. Or maybe a scientist who would discover the cure for depression.  

If you know of a family member who is showing signs that they are struggling or they begin behaving erratically, please get them to a doctor or a counselor. Most communities have a mental health center that works on a sliding scale fee according to income. Yes, it may be a temporary thing. But they may need help getting through it.

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Jerlisa Contreras, 24, was pronounced dead at 6:52 am yesterday.

The autopsy has been completed on Alyssa, and her cause of death has been determined to be asphyxiation and head injuries. The autopsy shows the child was dead before she was thrown off the bridge. However, where the child died has not been determned. According to the prosecutor, there are no obvious signs at the home to indicate she was killed there.

http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/jersey/index.ssf?/base/news-3/1150692398190150.xml&coll=1 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

One of Jerlisa's last calls was to the sister who was caring for her son. Alyssa could be heard crying in the background. In the call, Jerlisa begged her sister to care for her son, as if he were her sister's own child. She also asked for forgiveness from her mother, and said she could not take it anymore. However, the sister did not have her cell phone with her at the time, and the 4 calls she made, went to voice mail.

Jerlisa's next call was to a cousin, and in it she admitted to killing her daughter, and said that she was going to kill herself.

http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/jersey/index.ssf?/base/news-3/1150779511189360.xml&coll=1