Michigan model and mother-of-two, Lauren Stuart, and her family were struggling, trying to conform to the expectations of their religious community who frowned at their thirst for college education
The Stuarts stopped being active in the Christian sect, Jehovah’s Witnesses, ultimately leading to Lauren snapping last week, friends said, and ending it all
The aspiring model fatally shot her husband and their two adult children in a gruesome murder-suicide after being shunned by the Jehovah’s Witnesses
Victims were identified as Daniel Stuart,47, and the couples children Steven, 27, and Bethany, 24
Lauren also shot the family’s dog before turning the gun on herself
All four family members were found dead inside their Keego Harbor, Michigan home Friday morning
Friends said the Stuarts had been shunned by the Jehovah’s Witnesses after leaving the sect five years ago
The couple’s thirst for college education for their children, reportedly, is forbidden by the sect
Police say Lauren Stuart [left], shot and killed her husband Daniel [right], and their adult children Steven and Bethany before committing suicide
Michigan authorities say a Keego Harbor woman who murdered her whole family , and the family’s pet in a triple murder-suicide was burdened by ostracization from her religious community.
Lauren Stuart killed her husband and two adult children before turning the gun on herself last week. The bodies of 45-year-old Lauren , her husband Daniel, 47, and their children Steven, 27, and Bethany, 24, were found inside the family home Friday morning, after a concerned family member called police to conduct a welfare check.
The family dog was also found dead in a bathtub.
Since their deaths, friends opened up about the family being marooned from the Jehovah’s Witnesses for the past five years, and being subsequently shunned by their former community.
Some of the couple’s friends who revealed that the family left the church because they wanted to send their children to college, which is forbidden by the Christian sect. Poeple close to the couple believe that the isolation from the shunning may have been what caused Lauren to snap and kill her husband and children.
Religious ostracization friends say, pressured Lauren Stuart [left], to shoot the couple’s son Steven, [right], and their daughter Bethany before shooting herself
When anyone leaves the church, current members are no longer allowed to interact with them, even the blood relatives who remain in the church.
One such friend, Joyce Taylor barged into a Jehovah’s Witness meeting on Sunday in Union Lake and blamed them for the triple murder-suicide.
In a video posted online, she is seen getting up on a chair to address the congregation.
‘Excuse me everyone, my name is Joyce Taylor… Two days ago, four people died as a result of your shunning process,’ Taylor said.
‘Five years ago you people pulled your support from this small family, the only support they had, are you people. You turned them away and you shunned them.’
The bodies of the four Stuart family members were found inside their Keego Harbor, Michigan home Friday morning. A concerned family member called police
As members tried to get her to step down, Taylor started yelling.
‘For what?! Because they wanted to raise their children as they saw fit,’ she screamed.
According to Taylor, Lauren and Daniel Stuart, wanted to send their children to college, but the religion forbids that. They did so anyway, with their son Steven following his father’s footsteps in information technology. Dan was a data solutions architect for the University of Michigan’s Center for Integrative Research in Critical Care.
24-year-old Bethany went into in art and graphic design.
“All they [Stuarts], wanted to do was raise their family the way they wanted to,” Taylor, a former Jehovah’s Witness herself, said
‘Instead they were ostracized by their parents and everyone in the Jehovah’s Witnesses community when they left’.
According to Taylor the couple “were shunned every way possible. If Lauren went to the grocery store, they didn’t look her in the eye,” said Taylor.
“When you are raised a Jehovah’s Witness, they choose your friends. They choose who you associate with. And if you go against that, they will dis-fellowship you, or shun you.”
Police say they are aware of the claim that the family had issues with their former church, but they refused to comment on it. They said Lauren left behind a long suicide note, but would not comment on the details included in that either.
Lauren turned to modelling [photo L-R], after leaving the church. She was also a personal trainer
Taylor said she had Lauren over for tea just a week before her death and nothing seemed unusual. Still, she thinks her friend may have been battling a personal problem that was probably exacerbated by her isolation.
‘She worshiped Danny. Danny worshiped her. They were like hand in glove. But she was very concerned about Dan. He was prone to depression and she was always worried about him’ .
‘She was in emotional distress… she felt alone. I was her lifeline,’ Taylor said.
After leaving the church, Lauren got into modeling, and still has a modeling website up with professional pictures. She also worked as a personal-trainer and cleaned houses.
Her husband on the other hand, worked as a data solutions architect at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor’s Center for Integrative Research in Critical Care.
However, neighbor Jackie Tristani says the family were ‘quiet’ and mostly kept to themselves: “Because, you know, I think they were in Jehovah’s Witness that they weren’t – they didn’t have a whole lot of friends around here,” Tristani told Fox 2 Detroit.
Tristani’s husband John says the first time they met Lauren, she tried to recruit them into the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
One of four bodies is removed from the Stuart family home at Keego Harbor, on Friday
The DetroitFreePress reports that the Stuart family tragedy was not the first such incident. In 2001, the shame of being excommunicated from the Jehovah’s Witnesses reportedly, drove Christian Longo to murder his wife and three young children. The family had relocated from Michigan to Oregon. Authorities said his financial troubles triggered his expulsion from the church, which then triggered the killings.
In 2014, another family of four was found executed in their South Carolina home in a murder suicide. The shooter was the father, a devout Jehovah’s Witness. All four were shot in the head.