(Photo: Screen Grab via YouTube/WPBF 25 News)
A newly divorced mother mired in financial woes and on the verge of being booted from her $600,000 home next month, was found dead along with her two children from gunshot wounds in what police say appears to have been a murder-suicide.
Jennifer Berman, 48, her son, Alexander Berman, 16, and her daughter, Jacqueline, 15, were all discovered dead by police in the West Palm Beach, Fla., home they were being forced to leave next month due to a foreclosure sale, according to The Palm Beach Post.
The gruesome discovery has left many in the El Cid neighborhood where the house is located grappling with shock.
"I can't believe this could happen in our neighborhood, but I guess it could happen anywhere," Rod Tinson, a neighbor told the Post. "It's a shame. It's sickening to hear [about] the teenage kids too."
Police confirmed the deaths at about 6 p.m. Monday. Their investigation revealed that Jennifer Berman sent emails to her family and ex-husband, Richard Berman, 51, whom she divorced in December, saying she was going to harm herself or other members of her family.
On receiving the emails, Richard Berman drove to the home and called the police. The police have since ruled him out as a suspect.
The report details a bitter divorce proceeding between Richard Berman and his ex-wife who worked as a nurse and held a real estate license. It highlights that he stopped paying for the mortgage on the house which had been in foreclosure since 2010.
Jennifer Berman became so strapped for cash she lost her divorce attorney and had to work nights to make ends meet.
"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," noted court documents.
"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," the documents further noted.
The couple got married on Feb. 15, 1992. Richard Berman filed for divorce on Feb. 13, 2008, but that process wasn't finalized. His ex-wife filed for divorce on Aug. 24, 2012, but the couple continued living together until Jennifer asked a judge a year later to kick him out. She claimed "extreme emotional abuse and fighting (verbal) in home," according to court documents.
The couple's children attended Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach and were talented musicians who played in the orchestra. Alexander played the cello and Jacqueline played the violin.
The Dreyfoos School of the Arts Foundation expressed heartache on its Facebook page on Monday, and since then, many others including Richard Berman have expressed their condolences.
"Words seem inadequate to express the sadness we feel over the loss of Alexander and Jacqueline Berman, two of our Dreyfoos family members. Our condolences go out to all who were touched by these two wonderful students," noted the school on the page.
On Tuesday, the foundation also posted photos of students gathering to remember Alexander and Jacqueline, which triggered a reaction from Richard Berman.
"You don't know how much this touched me to see. I wasn't able to be there but I'm so glad you shared. They were really special kids and had great friends there. I'm going to do much better knowing I can still be a part of such a great family in some way," he wrote.
Just five days ago, the last thing his son, Alexander, posted on his Instagram account was: "Just know that God is on our side."