Florida mom kills her two
teens, self in murder-suicide month after divorce: cops
Richard Berman, newly divorced from Jennifer
Berman, found her and their kids, Alex, 16, and Jacqueline, 15,
dead in their West Palm Beach home. Jennifer Berman had deep
financial woes and had even resorted to selling her late father's
watch to buy gas and clothing for her kids. Her ex, meanwhile, is
a prominent realtor.
By Sasha Goldstein - New York Daily News
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Her financial woes and personal issues drove a
Florida woman over the edge - and beyond.
The distraught mother of two talented teen
musicians shot her kids dead before turning the gun on herself in
a gruesome double-murder suicide.
Richard Berman, 51, found his bullet-ridden
children, Alex, 16, and Jacqueline, 15, and their mother, Jennifer
Berman, 48, dead of a suicide in their West Palm Beach home Monday
morning — just hours after he received an email from the maniacal
mom threatening harm to their shared children.
Cops released the disturbing 911 calls from the
moment Richard Berman and a neighbor discovered the bodies Monday
“It looks like she’s laid in bed but she
doesn’t have a face,” the shaken neighbor tells the dispatcher of
the suicidal mom. "I think the girl's up in bed with her but when
I saw what was upstairs I had to run back downstairs."
Richard Berman tells 911 that he was heading to
the house after his "ex-wife said she was going to harm the kids."
"She sent me an email that she did the best
thing for our family," Richard tells a police dispatcher as he
called 911 en route to the home. "And then she sent her cousin a
text that she was going to kill the kids and herself."
Richard and Jennifer Berman had only divorced
in December, WPEC-TV reported, weeks after Jennifer’s mother had
died last fall. Their home, on Pershing Way just off the Lake
Worth Lagoon, was in foreclosure, the TV station reports, and the
kids and their mother were to move out in February.
"Oh, s--t," Richard Berman says in the newly
released 911 call after he finds his dead son in the house. "I was
just touching his head. He wasn't waking up. His alarm was on, he
wasn't waking up, there's blood in his ear."
The marital, and financial, woes in the family
had existed for years.
Richard Berman originally filed for divorce in
2008 - 16 years after they first married, the Palm Beach Post
reported. The family was living lush for years, but by early last
year, Jennifer Berman was struggling to get by without her
ex-husband any longer in her life. The mom-of-two could no longer
pay her divorce attorney in April and was in such financial
straits, she was forced to sell her late father's watch, the Palm
Beach Post reported.
The family home had actually once belonged to
Jennifer Berman's mother and had been in foreclosure since 2010.
"The husband has not paid the mortgage on the
former marital home during the entire time of the dissolution of
marriage proceeding," read documents filed in court in May by
Jennifer Berman. "He has not contributed to the support of the
wife or of the minor children. In fact, he has refused to pay for
toilet paper, buys food and supplies for himself and keeps them
where the wife and children cannot access them.”
Once a realtor, Jennifer Berman was forced to
work 12-hour overnight shifts as a nurse to make any income to
support her children.
Richard Berman is a successful realtor who
sells multi-million dollar homes in South Florida.
Neighbors recalled Jennifer Berman as a normal,
loving mother — until recently.
“A couple of days ago, she was different,”
Marian Sklodowski told WSVN-TV. “You could see it in her face,
there was something missing, something disturbed in her mind. The
conversation, the language, the eyes … something was missing.”
The teens were talented musicians attending the nearby Alexander
W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts, a prestigious arts high school in
southern Florida. Alex played cello while his older sister, a
straight-A student, played violin.
counselors were made available at the teens’ school this week as
their friends and peers come to grips with a tragedy of which
police have yet to determined a motive.
through a divorce, foreclosure, a lot of that stuff which, it's an
upsetting thing when you're going through a divorce and having to
sell the beautiful house in this neighborhood, and it's just, she
just seemed like she had been upset lately,” family friend Brian
McManus told WSVN. "You can't fathom, you can't understand what's
going on in someone's head for things like that to happen."
'He's not moving... I can't
believe this is happening': Horrifying 911 call from luxury
realtor when he discovered his dead children after broke ex-wife
emailed to say she was going to kill them
Jennifer Berman wrote ex-husband Richard an
email threatening to harm herself and children Alexander 16, and
A 911 tape released on Tuesday details the
tense moments before and after Berman discovered the bloodied
bodies of his children
'It looks like she's laid in bed but she
doesn't have a face,' neighbor says on another 911 call
Mrs Berman and her husband had divorced in
December and their home had been sold; the mother and her children
were to move out in February
Richard Berman is a well-known realtor in West
Palm Beach, Florida
His estranged wife 'petitioned a judge to ask
her husband for grocery money in April after she was forced to
pawn her late father's watch'
By Louise Boyle and Paul Thompson and Joshua
Gardner - DailyMail.co.uk
January 15, 2014
A dramatic 911 tape released Tuesday details the horrifying moment
a Florida father realizes his ex-wife has murdered their teen son
and daughter before killing herself.
Berman, 51, rushed to the West Palm Beach home he once shared with
his family on Monday immediately after his ex-wife Jennifer
Berman, 48, announced her crazed intention to murder their
Despite the dispatcher's repeated
warnings, he went inside and encountered an unimaginably grisly
'He’s not moving, there’s blood on his
ear,' the luxury realtor manages to sputter after finding the body
of his 16-year-old son. 'I can’t believe this is happening.'
In the tense moments before it became all too clear that
15-year-old daughter Jacqueline and son Alexander were shot dead
by their own mother, Berman told the 911 operator he was terrified
to enter the house.
'She sent her cousin a text
that she was going to kill the kids and herself,' Berman's said as
he at first waited outside for police as the operator instructed.
But then a neighbor decided to enter the home in his stead and
moments later came back screaming, according to the Palm Beach
'There's blood on the walls,' the shocked
'It looks like she's laid in
bed but she doesn’t have a face,' the neighbor added. 'I think the
girl's up in bed with her but when I saw what was upstairs I had
to run back downstairs.'
That's when, in the
frenzy of the moment, Berman entered the home and saw the horror
'I was just all touching his head
and he wasn’t waking up. His alarm was on and there was blood in
his ear,' he said, his voice cracking.
then arrived and confirmed the worst.
reports of battles over money and the family's foreclosed home are
all the clues left that can paint a picture of what drove a mother
Jennifer Berman had reportedly taken
her ex-husband to court for financial support after she was forced
to sell her father's watch to pay for gas and groceries.
Berman, a prominent realtor in luxury homes, and his wife divorced
in December. Mrs Berman claimed in court documents that she was
struggling financially, taking 12-hour overnight shifts as a nurse
to make ends meet.
The mother and her two
children were due to move out of their home in the exclusive,
historically-protected El Cid neighborhood next month.
Police were alerted by Mr Berman to the tragic multiple shooting
shortly after 8am. Investigators said the deaths are being treated
as a murder-suicide after all three died from gunshot wounds. Mr
Berman was not considered a suspect, police said.
Family friend Brian McManus told WSVN that Mrs Berman had recently
been going through a difficult time in her life.
Mr McManus said: 'Going through a divorce, foreclosure, a lot of
that stuff which, it's an upsetting thing when you're going
through a divorce and having to sell the beautiful house in this
neighborhood, and it's just she just seemed like she had been
'You can't fathom, you can't
understand what's going on in someone's head for things like that
Last year, Mrs Berman had also
petitioned a judge to remove her husband from the home because of
The family had previously
lived at another home in the historic and exclusive El Cid
neighborhood which sold for $1.2million in 2010.
The home in which the murder suicide took place had previously
belonged to Jennifer Berman's mother. The property had been in
foreclosure since 2010 but was recently sold. The mother and her
two children were due to move out in February.
Mrs Berman had been working 12-hour shifts as a night nurse for an
elderly man because she needed the money, a friend, who refused to
be identified, told the Palm Beach Post.
Berman lost her divorce lawyer because she could not afford to pay
him last year.
According to the Palm Beach Post,
she asked a judge to make her husband pay alimony and child
support, claiming she was forced to sell her late father's watch
to buy gas and groceries.
Court records from the
attorney's of Mrs Berman claimed: 'The husband has not paid the
mortgage on the former marital home during the entire time of the
dissolution of marriage proceeding. He has not contributed to the
support of the wife or of the minor children.
'In fact, he has refused to pay for toilet paper, buy food and
supplies for himself and keeps them where the wife and children
cannot access them.'
The Bermans married in 1992
in Miami. Mr Berman first filed for divorce in 2008 but the couple
reconciled. Mrs Berman filed for divorced in August 2012 but the
couple remained living under the same roof for a while.
Last year, Mrs Berman allegedly asked a judge to remove her
husband from the home, according to the Palm Beach Post, because
of 'extreme emotional abuse and fighting (verbal) in home'.
The couple shared equal custody of their two teenage children.
Neighbor Marian Sklodowski said that Mrs Berman had recently
appeared 'upset, disappointed and confused'.
'You can notice that, from the face, from the eyes, something was
strange in her face,' she added.
attended the Dreyfoos School of Arts and were promising musicians,
their devastated friends said.
Close friends and
fellow musicians said they will remember Alexander Berman for
being an accomplished cello player while his sister Jacqueline was
extremely talented at the violin and a straight A student.
Grief counselors were on hand at the school to help classmates
cope with the tragedy.
'At first it was just
disbelief, going through stages of grief all at once. It's
shocking to hear when it's one of your friends, you hear this on
the news and don't think it will happen to you,' a friend told
'Everyone was crying, everyone was silent,
it was a sad environment,' another student added.