ST. LOUIS (KMOV) – Police say a Ballwin woman who shot her three children to death before killing herself purchased a gun weeks before the tragic shooting.
Christine Adewunmi, 37, and her daughters 8-year-old Lauren, 6-year-old Samantha and 3-year-old Kate were discovered Saturday afternoon on a gravel road at the Blue Springs Ranch & Resort near Bourbon, Missouri, about 80 miles southwest of St. Louis.
Crawford County Sheriff Randy Martin said Monday that Christine Adewunmi killed her daughters and then turned the gun on herself. Each died of a single gunshot wound.
According to a memorandum released Tuesday, officers at the scene discovered a gun inside the family’s vehicle that Christine Adewunmi had purchased on February 21 from a St. Louis-area business.
Blue Springs Ranch owner J.R. Isom said a resort guest driving down a remote road at the resort on Saturday afternoon saw what appeared to be bodies in the middle of the road. Isom and employees went to hilly site and saw a car parked in the middle of the road and the four bodies another 100 yards or so down the road.
Isom said the Adewunmis were not guests at the resort and apparently entered through a back entrance. Heavy rain on Friday led to flash floods, forcing the resort to close the main entrance.
Police said they were able to determine Adewunmi shot herself based on the position of the gun.
“At first we thought maybe they got down there and drowned, but then we observed they were shot,” Isom said. “The gun was laying there. It was pretty gruesome.”
Leonard Adewunmi, Christine’s husband and the father of the girls, reported them missing at 6 p.m. Friday after he couldn’t find them in their Ballwin home.
Officials said Christine Adewunmi, who suffered from bipolar disorder and was severely depressed, had been at Mercy Hospital undergoing a mental evaluation just a day before the shooting.
In a statement released Monday afternoon, the family said no one knew the depths of her illness or could ever foresee the tragedy happening.
“We cannot understand why this has happened and are dealing with this tragic loss one minute at a time. We firmly believe the Christine we knew and loved would never intentionally hurt her children," the statement read.
Neighbors of the Adewunmi family described the mother as an attentive, always-smiling woman whose life revolved around her girls, and recalled the family selling lemonade in front of their home to raise money for cancer victims.
Amit Mehta, who lives two doors down, said the girls were active in the Girl Scouts and recently delivered cookies in the neighborhood.
“Very gentle, very peaceful people,” Mehta said. “I could never imagine this happening. They were such happy little girls.”
Sandy Suetterlin, who lives across the street from the Adewunmi’s stately two-story brick home, said Christine Adewunmi often played games outside with the girls and guided them as they rode their bikes.
“She was real happy, it seemed like,” Suetterlin said. “I don’t get it. I wish I did. I just can’t sleep at night. I’m just blown away.”
Alexis Miller, a student at Parkway North High School 10 years ago when Christine Adewunmi was a teacher there, said the news came as a complete shock.
“I just immediately thought about her children, the three girls,” said Miller. “I think I speak for a lot of people when I say we never had any inkling she was even capable of such a thing.”
The business networking site LinkedIn lists Leonard Adewunmi as a managing partner of CRI Commercial Properties. Messages left with him on Monday were not returned. It wasn’t immediately clear if Christine Adewunmi worked. Court records did not show any criminal or civil cases involving Christine Adewunmi.
The family said they would pray for Leonard Adewunmi as he dealt the loss of his children.
“He is a proud and loving father of his three smart, beautiful and talented little girls. As an involved and caring dad, he will miss cooking with Lauren, playing soccer with Sammi, and singing to Kate. Leonard is a devout Catholic and family man that worked very hard to give his wife and children a wonderful life. Please respect his privacy as he has just lost his entire family," the family said in the statement.
Surveillance video shows Christine driving through a McDonalds in Sullivan, Missouri Friday around 11:30 a.m. The coroner’s office believes she killed her daughters and herself about two hours later.
Investigators said Christine was also researching online how to commit suicide just days before the shooting.
Real estate records showed the family home was purchased for $350,000 in October 2001. Lauren was a second-grader at Oak Brook Elementary School in the Parkway School District, and Samantha was in first grade. School district spokeswoman Cathy Kelly said the school is on spring break this week, but counselors will be on hand when the kids return next Monday.
The school’s principal sent an email to parents on Sunday advising them of the deaths, with links to websites to help children deal with tragedy, Kelly said.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.