During Visitation

Brian Vieau, 38, and his wife Tracy Vieau, 40, were the parents of two children ages 3 and 6 years of age (one report says 4 and 6.) They had been married for 13 years, but the marriage was ending. Tracy Vieau was living apart with the children and the couple were planning to divorce. Brian Vieau was a police officer and worked nights, so Tray Vieau was in the habit of taking the children there each evening to spend some time with their father. Friends have said Brian Vieau was suffering stress from the impending divorce, along with pressures from the job.

Thursday evening Tracy Vieau had again brought the children to the home. When she arrived back at the home about 7:13 pm to pick the children up, police say that Brian Vieau used his duty weapon to shoot his estranged wife three times.

And they say that Vieau then called 911 and reported a domestic dispute with shots fired. He then turned the gun on himself.

Police found Tracy Vieau near the front door. Brian Vieau was found in his uniform with a shot to his head and the gun near his body. Police also found a suicide note was found typed up on the computer, the note was left on the screen for police to find. In the note Vieau reportedly described his unhappiness with the marriage.

Upstairs in the home police found the two sons watching cartoons in a room with the door closed. Police say they did not witness the crime. The children were taken out of the home with their heads covered in order to prevent them from seeing the aftermath. The children are now with relatives.

detnews.com  grandhaventribune.com  freep.com

freep.com      monroenews.com           wlns.com

                      clickondetroit.com

I always have difficulty writing one about police officers. I have a lot of respect for law enforcement and the job they do. So when a person who is charged with the duty to serve and protect, becomes the perpetrator I find that difficult.

Had the murder been committed by anyone else- even under the current circumstances- Brian Vieau would likely have done all that he could to apprehend the perpetrator and bring him to justice.

Yet when off duty, he is a man like any other. Subject to the same feelings and emotions that any other person would feel in the same circumstances. Trained to keep himself and others under control in volatile situations, that training can break down when it is personal.

Many departments offer some counseling to the officers to help cope with problems they may have, including personal ones. And according to one article that service was available to Vieau. Yet many officers are reluctant to use the service in fear that it may change how others view them or affect their chances of advancement. It is important for a law enforcement officer to utilize the counseling service if they find themselves having difficulty coping with situations- whether it be due to the job or to a personal situation. Because their ability to maintain control is important to us all.

Divorce does cause stress, even if you want the divorce. There is stress over the ending of the relationship, stress of going to court, stress over finances, and stress over the children. Depression is often present during a divorce. But time and a short round of counseling can often alleviate some of the stress or at least give it some different perspective. One thing that struck me, was that in this situation he was apparently seeing his children daily. In many divorces the visitation with the children is much more restricted or not present at all.

Two children, happily watching cartoons. Thankfully they were spared seeing the worst of it. But no one can spare them from learning about how a loved one can kill another loved one. No one can spare them from growing up, knowing that something terrible happened and that both of their parents are gone. They will survive. And with love and care they will manage well. But there will always be times when this will come back to them and affect them in a negative way. At Health and Child Trauma discusses the affect of grief on children and suggestions on ways to cope.

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20 Comments

  1. D.P. said,

    February 10, 2007 at 10:42 pm

    It is heartbreaking when an officer of the law turns perpetrator. His fellow officers that he served with will most likely be shocked that he was able to do this.
    About ten years ago, we had a woman come into the shelter with her two young sons. She had traveled over 3000 miles in a very fragmented and secretive way, paying her way across the country with cash so as not to leave a paper trail. She had been squirreling away money for the better part of a year to accomplish this. She chose this location to shelter at since she had NO friends or family in the area.
    WHY? Because her abuser, the man who had threatened to see her and their two sons dead before he would allow them to leave him was a homocide detective. Yes, a man trained to hunt down leads and find his target no matter where they may be. The three weeks that she spent in our shelter were three of the most tense weeks that I had ever experienced as a social worker. We eventually found her a separate safe house, for fear that if her abuser did locate this city, it would just be a matter of time before he systematically narrowed down where she might be. The fact that he was in LE was also frightening as he could use this connection for local help from other LE agencies.
    The good news is that this woman, who was smart enough to think ahead, and smart enough to judge just how dangerous her husband was, escaped her abuser and lives under an assumed name with her children and new husband.

  2. Dlarkin said,

    February 12, 2007 at 9:04 am

    What I find tragic but not surprising in the above piece is that the true innocent victims, the children, are relegated to fourth place — “There is stress over the ending of the relationship, stress of going to court, stress over finances, and stress over the children.” Adults have a duty to the children they bring into this world; but it is sad that most of these marriages end due to the self-centeredness and selfishness of BOTH partners.

  3. D.P. said,

    February 12, 2007 at 4:21 pm

    While you do make a good point, Dlarkin, it was my experience that most of the women who do finally try to break free of the relationship do so strictly FOR the children. These women endure much but the last straw always seemed to be when the children were either physically abused, threatened, or started acting out in a manner consistant with mimicking the abuser. Adults have a duty to the children they bring into the world, you are so correct. Sometimes that duty is to split up an abusive situation.

  4. Flora Mukavec said,

    February 12, 2007 at 11:39 pm

    Brian and Tracy were friends of ours. Brian even stood up in our wedding. My husband was his partner for two years. They spent 40-60 hours a week together. Tracy was a beautiful person, kind, loving, and fun. Brian was the same. We are so sad and sick over what happened. Whenever one hears about these things, we often think the husband was a jerk (or worse). I think this is why it’s so difficult for those of us that knew them to reconcile the tragedy. We think that he crawled into a hole that he could not see any light from. While I IN NO WAY, condone or want to imply that he had an excuse, we cannot figure out how he could have acted in this way. It wasn’t in his nature. Really. As a parent, I cannot even fathom how the love for his children could not help him get through this tough time. Today, my 2 yr. old tripped and hit her head. As I was comforting her, I thought about Tracy never being able to hold her sons again, whether they are in pain or happy. I became almost violently ill. By the way, she also has another child from a previous marriage, so there are 3 children that have lost their mother. the only answer that I can think of is something went wrong in Brian’s head. We saw him a couple of weeks before and he told us that he was trying to move on. Sadly, he couldn’t. Tragically, he wouldn’t allow anyone else to either.

  5. February 12, 2007 at 11:58 pm

    Flora, I was like you. I had always thought that for someone to harm someone else, they must be some type of monsters. But since beginning this blog I have come to realize that sometimes they are or were often nice people at one time, before they did the unbelievable. And that very often people around them do not see or understand where they are in their own mind- because they don’t talk about it.

  6. D.P. said,

    February 13, 2007 at 12:03 am

    Please accept my deepest sympathy, Flora, and thank you for sharing some insight with us in this tragic case.

  7. George said,

    February 14, 2007 at 7:40 pm

    Does anyone know any arraingments for Tracy, She is my coworkers sister-in-law.

  8. George said,

    February 14, 2007 at 7:41 pm

    Does anyone know any arraingments for Tracy, She is my coworkers sister-in-law.

  9. sharon james said,

    February 15, 2007 at 7:49 am

    My father is a police officer – a sargeant. He beat mother for many years. Very brutally, including whilst she was pregnant. He also bullied my step mother, my brothers and my sister. He used prisoners to do work around his home so he didn’t have to, he used police cars and government money to run his own errands and he even pretended a prisoner needed to be institutionalised so the government would fund the 20 hour drive he needed to check up on some personal property business.

    When I became a teenager he used to beat me regularly and violently.

    Everyone in our town knew about it but as he was the police officer in charge of the town nobody knew how to help me. he is still a police sargeant – in charge of another town with his third family who I hear are not happy.

    I spent many years living in fear that my father would kill me until he kicked me out of home at 16. At 15 he smirked when he caught me trying to commit suicide and laughed telling me ‘just do it and get it over with”

    I am now a 35 year old respectable parent – still in therapy because of the way he treated me.

    It makes me so cross when people feel sad about so called wonderful and respectful Officers of the law. My father ruined mine and other peoples lives because he used his title to intimidate and bully people yet he has been hailed as a hero because he was once shot whilst on duty by a young girl.

    Not all police officers are heros 😦

  10. February 15, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    Thank you for speaking out about your experiences. By speaking out, you help to spread awareness to others.
    No Sharon, unfortunately police officers are not perfect beings. Some are like your father. And I am so sorry for how you grew up. I am glad that you survived and that you are working to resolve the damage that was handed you with your upbringing.
    It is true that not all officers are heroes. They are human beings. Some are not heroes anywhere, some are heroes only on the job, and some are heroes both on the job and at home. They are individuals behind the title. While your suspicions of the title are understandable, please don’t tar the whole law enforcement community because of what one individual has done. Some of them are good, caring people- both on the job and at home.
    I wish that someone had stepped in for you, because you could have been and should have been helped.

  11. Flora Mukavec said,

    February 16, 2007 at 2:33 pm

    George, We have not heard anything aboout Tracy’s arrangements. We wonder if she will be flown to North carolina where her family is from.

  12. Flora Mukavec said,

    February 16, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    George, I don’t know if this is too late but…
    VIEAU, TRACY LYN; of Brownstown; February 8, 2007; age 40. Beloved daughter of Ingrid and the late Wallace Leeper; loving mother of Mitchell Mierzejewski, Michael and Mason Vieau; dear sister of Eric Johnson, Mark and Scott Leeper; aunt of many nieces and nephews. Arrangements by Kernan Funeral Services, 1020 Fort St., Lincoln Park, MI, 313-381-2345.

  13. Alice Scott said,

    February 20, 2007 at 3:55 am

    And other sad note. Tracy the wife had a son from a previous marriage … now three sons have lost their mother.

  14. Marti Henry said,

    February 20, 2007 at 9:17 pm

    Thank you, Flora, for posting Tracy’s obituary. Tracy was my husband’s cousin. He flew out to Michigan from New Hampshire to be with Tracy’s mother and brothers during the difficult time after her murder. Taking care of her affairs in the limited time they were there, and I’m sure dealing with the unspeakable grief they were feeling, they did not have a service there in Michigan for all those people in Michigan whose lives she had touched. As far as I’m aware, not even an obituary was published. They are planning a graveside service, tentatively on July 13, at Spring Grove Cemetery, in East Liverpool, Ohio, where Tracy will be interred next to her father and grandparents.

  15. Scott Leeper said,

    February 26, 2007 at 11:01 am

    I greatly appreciate the kind words said about my sister Tracy. We keep expecting her to walk in the front door. The support from family and friends has been overwhelming, and I thank you all.

  16. Deanna (Dee) Breeze said,

    March 1, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    Scott – I hate to hear this about your sister. My prayers and thoughts are with you and your family. I really hope your mom is doing OK. If you guys need ANYTHING please feel free to call me. If you do not still have my number you can get it from Kristie. God Bless you and your family!!

  17. Very Sad Indeed said,

    March 2, 2007 at 5:04 pm

    Scott:

    I used to work with Tracy a couple of years ago. She was a very bright and kind person. She was also very proud of her children. Tracy, her three children and your family are in my prayers. Please email me at socratesorplato@comcast.net, as I want to pass along some information to your family in a more private forum.

  18. Theresa Bizoe said,

    March 7, 2007 at 6:58 pm

    I am so sorry to hear about this tragedy. I knew both Tracy and Brian through mutual friends. I work at an agency called First Step that helps families overcome the trauma of domestic violence-this is the first time that I have personally known and been friends with the victim and the perpetrator of a domestic homicide.

    First Step provides free counseling to family members who are left do deal with the trauma after a domestic homocide occurs. We have children’s advocates and counselors that are trained in supporting families. All of our services are free-anyone who knew the Vieau’s-friends, family, neioghbors… (or anyone who is fearful in a domestic relationship or has been the victim of a sexual assault) can call and get an appointment to speak with an advocate. First Step has a toll free help line 888-453-5900 and a shelter for victims of violence and their children.

    I would like to offer my deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Brian and Tracy. If First Step can be of assistance in any way, please contact us.

  19. Bob said,

    June 15, 2007 at 12:48 am

    Scott,

    Just heard about this from my sister and not sure if you remember me but I am Bob Dean who dated Tracy in high school. This is so sad and I only remember her as a fun beautiful loving girl then and I am sure she grew up that way as a woman. I am very sorry for your loss.

    Bob

  20. laurie said,

    May 28, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    I am curious if this is the Brian Vieau who I dated for a year in college when we were at UM-Flint. He suffered from depression when we were dating, at one point sleeping for nearly two days straight. He was originally going into mortuary science and then became a police officer. He was from Flint area–any connection? It is so tragic!


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