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Kelli Lynn MURPHY

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Frenzy over impending divorce and custody battle
Number of victims: 2
Date of murder: May 23, 2011
Date of arrest: Same day (suicide attempt)
Date of birth: 1970
Victim profile: Her two children, Liam, 9, and Madigan, 6
Method of murder: Smothering
Location: Castle Rock, Douglas County, Colorado, USA
Status: Sentenced to two consecutive life sentences on November 27, 2012
 
 
 
 
 
 
photo gallery
 
 
 
 
 
 

Mom gets two life terms

Kelli Lynn Murphy found guilty of first-degree murder of her two children

By Phil Tenser and Alan Gathright - 7news.com

November 28, 2012

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. -- Despite a plea from the defense that she be convicted of a lesser crime, a Castle Rock mother was found guilty Tuesday of murdering her two children.

After a two-week trial, a Douglas County jury deliberated just two hours before finding Kelli Lynn Murphy guilty of two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of first-degree murder by a person in a position of trust, said Casimir Spencer, spokeswoman for the District Attorney's Office for the 18th Judicial District.

Immediately following the verdict, Judge Vincent White sentenced Murphy to two consecutive life sentences in state prison.

On May 23, 2011, Murphy killed her two children, Liam, 9, and Madigan, 6, by smothering them in their Castle Rock home, Spencer said. Murphy and her husband were in the middle of a divorce and prosecutors said the mother was adamant about retaining sole custody of the children.

The mother called 911 at 7:48 a.m. that day to report she had attempted suicide by slashing her wrists, police said.

When a dispatcher asked about her children and if they were home, Murphy said: "They're already in heaven."

Murphy was scheduled to appear in Douglas County court the day after the murders to arrange a joint custody agreement.

Detectives searching the Murphy home found the court-ordered custody paper work on the kitchen table with the words, "Was it worth it?" handwritten on it. Prosecutors said the mother wrote that as a message to her husband in response to his fighting for joint custody of the children.

"Her intent was to control the divorce and the kids," Deputy District Attorney Christopher Gallo said during closing arguments. "The defendant was bent on control. It was Kelli's way or no way."

The defense argued that Murphy was unaware of what she did because she was under the influence of a mix of pain medication and alcohol at the time.

In their rebuttal to that argument, prosecutors cited a medical expert who said strangling two children required awareness of what was going on.

The sentencing difference between a reckless manslaughter and murder conviction would have allowed Murphy a chance at parole instead of spending the rest of her life in prison.

"Moms aren't supposed to kill their kids," Senior Deputy District Attorney Jay Williford told the jury during his closing rebuttal arguments. "But Kelli Murphy did!"

The family of Liam and Madigan Murphy issued the following statement after the conviction:

"This is a sad day for us. We would have preferred to be celebrating Liam's 11th birthday today. Instead, we would just like to offer our sincere thanks to everyone involved in this case, including the Castle Rock police, the first responders, the numerous agencies that supported the investigation, and everyone in the DA's office who worked tirelessly to ensure that justice was served, and who supported us throughout this long ordeal. We are also profoundly grateful to the jurors on this trial for their service.

"Although nothing can make up for the loss of Liam and Madigan or fill the void that is left by their absence, we are thankful that this chapter is now over and we look to God to help lighten our hearts," the family's statement concluded.

In a statement, Castle Rock Police Chief Jack Cauley said: "Justice was served today for two young children -- Liam and Madigan. It was a team effort, and I want to commend the partnership between Castle Rock Police, the 18th Judicial District and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. From the beginning, we all made a commitment to Liam and Madigan to find justice, and today that commitment was met."

 
 

Kelli Murphy convicted: Mother who told 911 operator her two kids were 'in heaven' is convicted of murdering them in their beds in frenzy over impending divorce and custody battle

  • Kelli Murphy, 42, of Castle Rock, Colorado was sentenced to two terms of life in prison without parole

  • Madigan, 6, and Liam, 9, were found smothered to death in May 2011

  • When asked where her children were, the mother allegedly told a 911 dispatcher 'they're in heaven'

  • Family members wept in court today as prosecutors showed pictures of Liam's dead body on his bed

By Helen Pow - CapitalBay.com

November 27, 2012

A Colorado mother has been convicted of murdering her two young children because she was distraught over her impending divorce.

Kelli Murphy, 42, of Castle Rock, was sentenced to two terms of life without parole as family members wept in the courthouse for six-year-old, Madigan, and nine-year-old, Liam, who she smothered to death in May 2011.

On what would have been Liam's 11th birthday, jurors were shown photographs of the children's bodies laying face down on their beds.

Dramatically, district Attorney Jay Williford described the amount of time and planning it would have required to kill each child, according to The Denver Post.

Pictures of the children's locked bedroom doors came on a projector as Mr Williford paused and watched the clock.

'Liam is now unconscious,' he said after about 30 seconds. 'Liam is now dead,' he added a minute-and-a-half later.

Friends and family sobbed for the children as Mr Williford explained how the mother had to tuck Liam in and make his bed before unlocking her daughter's door and repeating the process.

Throughout the trial, prosecutors claimed that Ms Murphy killed the children and then tried to commit suicide because she was distraught over her divorce from her husband, Robert Eric Murphy.

Prosecutor Chris Gallo described the mother as a controlling, angry, calculating woman who didn't want to share custody of the kids, according to The Denver Post.

'This is a woman bent on control,' Mr Gallo said. 'Controlling her kids, her husband and her divorce ... It was Kelli's way or no way.'

He said Ms Murphy told her husband: 'I want 100 per cent custody of the kids and 100 per cent of your salary. I'm going to make your life hell.'

But Ms Murphy's defense attorney argued the deaths were accidental, occurring after she blacked out from drinking a full bottle of vodka and taking too many pills.

Her attorney, Ara Ohanion, said her plan was to kill herself but make it look like she just fell asleep so as not to frighten her children.

But when she woke up she found her children face down on their beds dead and couldn't remember what happened, so she cut her wrists in a bid to end her life.

'No mother who loved her children the way Kelli did would do this intentionally or knowingly,' Mr Ohanion told jurors today, adding that the woman's behaviour had become increasingly erratic in the lead up to the murders.

He said Ms Murphy felt abandoned and rejected by her family because of the divorce and was acting unstable and paranoid.

On May 23 2011, Ms Murphy called 911 saying she was about to commit suicide. At that point, the kids had been dead for 12 hours already.

The dispatcher allegedly asked her if there were any children at home and she allegedly replied: 'They are in heaven.'

When the police arrived at her home they found the two children dead in their bedrooms. Both of the children went to Rock Ridge Elementary School. According to Castle Rock Police Chief Tony Lane, the bodies had no visible signs of injury.

In court today, the jury listened to Ms Murphy tell the dispatcher on the call that she 'hurt her two young children.'

When the operator asked her what happened, Ms Murphy said: 'I have to have an attorney.'

Mr Gallo said this proved beyond reasonable doubt that Ms Murphy was sober and conscious enough to know that she would need a lawyer to defend what she had done.

But Mr Ohanian claimed that requesting legal representation proved she didn't know what happened.

'She asked the EMT to kill her on the way to the hospital she was not in her right mind,' he said.

Jurors found her guilty of two counts of first-degree murder after deliberation and two counts of first-degree murder of a victim under 12-years-old.

 
 

Trial starts for Kelli Murphy - mom accused of killing 2 kids

By Matt Flener - 9news.com

November 14, 2012

Prosecutors say Kelli Lynn Murphy, 41, killed her kids Liam, 9, and Madigan, 6, in an act of control and revenge against her husband, Robert Eric Murphy.

She had filed for divorce against her husband and was due in court on a custody issue on the same day she's accused of murdering her children. Murphy's defense attorneys say Murphy was depressed because of the divorce and felt alone.

"She changed," Defense Attorney Ara Ohanion said. "She felt like everyone had abandoned her."

Ohanion claimed Murphy blacked out after drinking a full bottle of vodka and taking sleeping pills, hoping her kids would find her dead.

"Her plan was that she would go to sleep and not wake up. Her kids would find her. They would know she did not abandon them, [that] she just passed away," Ohanion said.

But when she woke up, "the kids were dead, and she wasn't," Ohanion said.

The 911 call

Kelli Murphy called 911 just before 8 a.m. on May 23, 2011 to report she slit her wrists. She also told a dispatcher she had kids in her house.

"They are in heaven right now," Murphy told a dispatcher, according to the 911 call played in the courtroom Wednesday.

When asked by dispatcher what happened to her kids, Murphy said, at least four times according to prosecutors, she needed an attorney. The Douglas County District Attorney's office is pursuing two counts of first-degree murder against Murphy.

"Mothers are not supposed to kill their children. Mother's provide life," Douglas County Deputy District Attorney Jay Williford told the jury in his opening statement. "But in this case, Kelli Lynn Murphy, squeezed the life from 9-year-old Liam and 6-year-old Madigan by her own hands. Both Liam and Madigan's life have been silenced."

Jurors heard testimony from the 911 dispatcher and the first officer to respond to the scene Wednesday morning. When Castle Rock Police Officer William Harris showed up to the house, he found Murphy with her wrists slit.

"It shocked me for a quick second," Harris told the jury.

Harris says he held paper towels on Murphy's wrists and asked her about her kids.

"They are deceased," he says Murphy told him.

When he asked where they were, she pointed down the hallway, Harris says. Another officer found the kids, suffocated and smothered to death in their respective bedrooms, prosecutors said. 

Troubled family history detailed in court records

According to court records reviewed by 9Wants to Know investigators, Kelli and Robert Eric Murphy filed for divorce in early 2011. Kelli Murphy was set to appear in court on Monday for a temporary restraining order hearing. Another hearing was set for Wednesday at 9 a.m. to discuss the order regarding a motion to vacate temporary orders of the divorce.

Murphy had filed a civil-protection order against her husband on March 3, citing domestic abuse and assault. According to the court documents, Kelli Murphy claimed her husband grabbed his daughter by the throat on two occasions in front of her brother.

"We were at home eating dinner, Robert had finished and was sitting on the couch. Madigan started messing around at the table, and he got up from the couch and grabbed her by the throat [in front of me and Liam] and started screaming at her to finish dinner," Kelli Murphy said in court documents.

She stated on another occasion, "Robert was giving Madigan a bath. She started messing around and not getting soap off. He again grabbed her by the neck/throat. [She said Dad was choking me] and shoved her head under the faucet. Liam saw it happen."

Kelli Murphy also told authorities on one occasion Robert Murphy barricaded her in the basement and hit her with the door. On April 11, Kelli Murphy wanted to permanently withdraw the divorce petition, citing the couple filed for divorce out of anger.

"Through our pastor, he had recommended a 'cooling off' period, and that we get into counseling. I do not want a divorce, and my husband has told me that as well. This needs to stop. We need counseling not a divorce. I am asking the court to intervene and stop these proceedings so that we can get counseling and put our marriage/family back together. After attending the parenting class, I know we need to pursue every method we can to save this marriage, keep our family together before it is too late," Kelli Murphy told the court.

The judge denied her request, saying that both parties needed to ask for a withdrawal in order for the divorce to be stopped.

The trial

Prosecutors says their case, moving forward, will show the jury pictures of the children's injuries, solicit testimony from neighbors and put Murphy's husband on the stand.

Ohanion says he would ask the jury to consider her mental state. He said he would ask the jury to consider lesser charges than first-degree murder but did not elaborate on what those charges might be.

"You will see Kelli Murphy is not guilty of first-degree murder," Ohanion told the jury.

 
 

Kelli Murphy's suicide plan revealed in Douglas County court

By Carlos Illescas - The Denver Post

November 14, 2012

CASTLE ROCK Every time the video monitored showed her 6-year-old daughter's lifeless body lying on her stomach on her bed, Kelli Murphy couldn't bear to look.

When a picture of the body of Murphy's 9-year-old son, Liam, flashed on the screen, shirtless and wearing only pajama bottoms, Murphy turned her head away.

Murphy appeared in Douglas County District Court on Wednesday, charged with murdering her two young children in May 2011 before she apparently tried to take her own life.

Murphy faces two counts of first-degree murder after deliberation, two charges of first-degree murder of a victim under 12 years old and two child abuse resulting in death charges.

Prosecutors say Murphy smothered and killed her children when she became distraught after seeking a divorce from her husband, Robert Eric Murphy.

After the deaths of her children, Murphy called 911 saying she was trying to commit suicide. When a dispatcher asked if there were any children in the home, Murphy told them, "They are in heaven."

"Mothers are not supposed to kill their children. Mothers provide life," prosecutor Jay Williford said in opening arguments. "But in this case, Kelli Lynn Murphy squeezed the life from 9-year-old Liam and 6-year-old Madigan by her own hands. Both Liam and Madigan's life have been silenced."

Defense attorney Ara Ohanion said Murphy blacked out after drinking a full bottle of vodka and taking sleeping pills, hoping her kids would find her dead.

"Her plan was that she would go to sleep and not wake up. Her kids would find her," Ohanion said. "They would know she did not abandon them, [that] she just passed away."

Castle Rock firefighter/paramedic Scott McKenna testified that he checked the girl and found that she was not breathing. He said Madigan's bedroom was spotless.

"The room was extremely tidy," McKenna said. "It looked like a model home."

Williford asked paramedic Larry Reynolds, who bandaged Murphy's wrists, whether it appeared she looked under the influence of alcohol. He said that she did not, although she was slow to respond to his questions, but he said that could have been because blood loss had lowered her blood pressure.

McKenna also said it did not appear Murphy had been drinking.

Prosecutors showed video pictures of a bloodied master bathtub and sink in the Murphy home. There was blood in the laundry room, blood in the garage and in a vehicle parked inside.

But there was not any blood found in either of the children's bedrooms, a key piece of evidence for prosectors, as that would make Murphy's defense unbelievable.

Castle Rock police Sgt. Scott Claton recalled the time when Murphy's husband arrived on the scene that morning.

"When he first walked up to me, he said, 'How are my kids? Are my kids OK?' "

"I responded to him, 'No, your kids are not OK.' "

"He began crying and collapsed to the ground, crying ... anguish screams," Claton said.

The trial is expected to last four to five weeks, but there are scheduled days off because of the court's docket. Testimony will continue Thursday.

 
 

Two Castle Rock children found dead were smothered to death

The Denver Post

July 8, 2011

The coroner's office released the cause of death for the two children found dead in their Castle Rock home in May, after their mother allegedly killed the two before attempting suicide.

Liam Murphy, 9, and his sister Madigan, 6, were smothered to death, according to a news release from the Douglas County Coroner's Office.

The toxicology tests for both children came back negative and the cause of death was determined to be asphyxia. The manner of death for both was ruled to be homicide.

On the morning of May 23, the children's mother, Kelli Lynn Murphy, 41, called police to report that she was trying to commit suicide. When the dispatcher asked whether there were any children in the house, she said, "They are in heaven."

When police arrived at the Founders Village home they found Liam and Madigan dead in their bedrooms.

Murphy was taken to the hospital where she was treated for wounds on her wrists and she was arrested later that day.

On May 27, Murphy was charged with two counts of first-degree murder after deliberation, two charges of first-degree murder of a victim under 12 years of age by a person in a position of trust and two counts of child abuse resulting in death, according to state records.

The judge also issued a no-contact order between Murphy and her husband, Robert Eric Murphy. Police say he is not a suspect in the case.

 
 

Court records show family trouble before child deaths

9news.com

May 24, 2011

Castle Rock Chief of Police Tony Lane says Kelli Lynn Murphy, 41, was arrested for two counts of first-degree murder and could also face other charges, including child abuse. She is set to appear in court at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

Officers responded to a call at 7:48 a.m. in the 200 block of Cherry Street, near Mikelson Boulevard and East Enderud Road in Castle Rock, after a woman told dispatchers she was going to commit suicide.

When asked if there were children in the home, the woman told the dispatcher that they were in the home. After more questioning, she said, "They're in heaven now," according to Lane.

When officers arrived, they found 9-year-old Liam and 6-year-old Madigan dead in the bedrooms. Both of the children went to Rock Ridge Elementary School.

Their cause and time of death have not been released.

"There doesn't appear to be any visible injuries on the children," Lane said. "I have no idea what the cause of death might be."

Kelli Murphy was taken to the hospital with lacerations to her wrists.

Police had visited the home the day before the children were found dead. The father of two children, Robert Eric Murphy, requested a welfare check from police on Sunday.

"It's devastating. It breaks your heart," Laura Luehr, a neighbor, said. "My heart goes out. My heart goes out to friends. My heart goes out to family."

Luehr saw the police arrive on Monday just before 8 a.m.

"[I] was pulling out to go to work and just saw cop cars racing," she said.

She lives a few homes down from Murphy.

"I know people go through some stuff but nothing is ever worth a child's life. Nothing is," she said.

Troubled family detailed in court records

According to court records reviewed by 9Wants to Know investigators, Kelli and Robert Murphy filed for divorce in early 2011.

Kelli Murphy was set to appear in court on Monday for a temporary restraining order hearing. Another hearing was set for Wednesday at 9 a.m. to discuss the order regarding a motion to vacate temporary orders of the divorce.

Murphy had filed a civil protection order against her husband on March 3, citing domestic abuse and assault. According to the court documents, Kelli Murphy claimed her husband grabbed his daughter by the throat on two occasions in front of her brother.

"We were at home eating dinner, Robert had finished and was sitting on the couch. Madigan started messing around at the table and he got up from the couch and grabbed her by the throat (in front of me and Liam) and started screaming at her to finish dinner," Kelli Murphy said in court documents.

She stated on another occasion, "Robert was giving Madigan a bath. She started messing around and not getting soap off. He again grabbed her by the neck/throat. (She said Dad was choking me) and shoved her head under the faucet. Liam saw it happen."

Kelli Murphy also told authorities on one occasion Robert Murphy barricaded her in the basement and hit her with the door.

On April 11, Kelli Murphy wanted to permanently withdraw the divorce petition, citing the couple filed for divorce out of anger.

"Through our pastor, he had recommended a 'cooling off' period and that we get into counseling. I do not want a divorce and my husband has told me that as well. This needs to stop. We need counseling not a divorce. I am asking the court to intervene and stop these proceedings so that we can get counseling and put our marriage/family back together. After attending the parenting class, I know we need to pursue every method we can to save this marriage, keep our family together before it is too late," Kelli Murphy told the court.

The judge denied her request, saying that both parties needed to ask for a withdrawal in order for the divorce to be stopped.

Murder investigation continues

Lane says investigators are interviewing neighbors, friends, parents and relatives, including the father of the children, about the incident. Lane says they want to do a thorough investigation, including searching the home once police obtain a search warrant.

Terry Wagner, a neighbor of the family, talked to 9NEWS on Monday.

"We knew there was some trouble," Wagner said. "They had gone through some problems and stuff. You could tell there is a little bit of strife [in the house.] I have a 9-year-old and a 10-year-old. They knew [the kids who died]. They've always been real nice."

Visibly distraught neighbors, who were standing around the crime scene, were helped by victim's advocates on Monday.

"I see their kids play with all the other kids. Very peaceful and quiet. We drive past them and wave and say hi. You just don't ever imagine anything like this happening," Luehr said.

A spokesperson for Kelli Murphy's family released a statement on Monday evening. The statement came from Todd Harker, the lead pastor at Community Baptist Church in Franktown:

"No words can express the sadness and pain our family is experiencing. We ask that we be allowed to grieve for our loss and face this tragedy in the shelter of privacy. We do ask that you join us in praying for Eric. We pray God would grant him all comfort and peace at this time."

 

 

 
 
 
 
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