Court records show family trouble before child deaths

5:41 AM, May 24, 2011   |    comments
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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."

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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