Relatives say they knew the Kastners were having marital problems. They say that Rachel Kastner was going to get a divorce. They say they knew that Travis Kastner had a bad temper. And some even say they suspected that Rachel Kastner was being abused. But they never thought it would go that far.
The couple had been married for about 16 years. Rachel Kastner was the mother of three teens ages 16, 14, and 13. Travis Kastner was the father of at least one of the children.
Sunday night the teenage children were seen running from the home, crying and saying over and over “My Dad killed my Mom”.
A neighbor who say the children went to the home to check on the mother and saw her lying at the bottom of the stairs with a knife or sharp object protruding from her abdomen. She gathered the children and took them to her home and called 911 and told police that their father was beating their mother. One of the teens reportedly said “My dad hit my mom with a sword and cut her open.” And one of the teens reportedly told a neighbor “Her son said she was yelling for help and he saw the dad beating her and blood flying. The boy said he doesn’t know how he could live without her.”
Police arrived and attempted to make contact with Travis Kastner. But despite repeated attempts, there was no response. SWAT fired tear gas into the home, and entered to find Rachel Kastner’s beaten, lifeless body at the foot of the stairs. And they found Travis Kastner dead from a gunshot wound to the head.
The children are now with relatives.
According to police, there had been no previous calls to the home nor any previous reports of domestic violence.
A discussion on how the violent murder of a parent can affect children of any age. They may regress to behavior of a younger child, they may have nightmares and or bedwetting, they may begin acting out aggressively. They may show signs of depression, stress, or become anxious or develop sleep disorders. They may easily startled by loud noises. Children from homes where violence has occurred may develop post traumatic stress disorder.
After a violent death of a parent, many kids and especially teens may feel they are somehow responsible. Maybe if they had minded better, not argued, or if their grades had been better. Maybe if they had been a better kid this wouldn’t have happened. It would have. Violence between a couple is never the kid’s fault. That blame lies solely on the abuser.
Likewise, they may feel that when they became aware of the beating, that they should have done something, anything to stop the beating and murder. Once the violence begins, the abuser will not stop until they decide to stop. Anyone who steps in between the two or who tries to stop it will also be killed. These kids did all they could do, and they did it correctly. They got out and they called for help. I believe that is what their mother would have wanted them to do.
Many times families who suspect abuse will have guilt feelings later. It is important to remember that no one who did not reside in the home ever really knows what is going on, unless the household members are willing to talk about it. And often they don’t. And while there may have been things they could do to encourage her, the final decisions always resided with the couple.
It is important to note that if a person is trying to leave a relationship with violence involved, it is important to talk to friends and families, so they can be actively involved in the safety plan.
A safety plan should be developed whether the person is still in the relationship or is leaving the relationship. There are links on the left that discuss how to develop a safety plan.