It was a suburban tragedy to turn the blood cold.
When Richard Berman, 51, got an email on January 13 from his ex-wife threatening to hurt their 16-year-old son, Alexander, and 15-year-old daughter, Jacqueline, he feared the worst.
Mr Berman rushed to their former family house in West Palm Beach’s upscale El Cid neighbourhood only to face a father’s nightmare: Jennifer Berman, 48, had shot both of their children dead before turning the gun on herself.
The Bermans’ divorce, which was finalised in December, had been contentious — including allegations of abuse and financial neglect — but, according to the Palm Beach Post, the parents agreed to joint custody. During holidays, the children would spend at least two nights of Chanucah with their father but join their mother for Christmas.
Arriving at the scene, Mr Berman, a estate agent, called 911. In the recording released to the media, he was heard saying: “She sent me an email that she did the best thing for our family.”
The chilling recording tracked Mr Berman and a neighbour as they discovered the bloodied walls, Jacqueline and her mother dead on the bed, and the body of Alexander in another room.
The house was reportedly in foreclosure and Ms Berman, who had previously said she might hurt herself, was said to be on anti-depressants, but this was the first threat to the children that the father said he had been aware of. Both children were promising musicians at the Alexander W Dreyfoos School of the Arts but, as Mr Berman finishes sitting shiva, he must come to terms with the fact that their promise will go unfulfilled.